wrap up post

December 22, 2009

Hi everyone, so sadly this will be my last post. After taking up the tough challenge of following a business reporter during an economic recession, I have learned a lot. My reporter had to keep the public updated on  the current state of the economy as it struggles to become stable. With the ever changing nature of the economic crisis it is no easy task covering the important details and reporting to the public what is more imperative.  I have however learned a lot from this experience as well as JR101 as a whole.

I started writing for the Huffington Post earlier this summer with no prior experience or education in the field of journalism. I was pretty much just “winging it”. Now I feel that I have a better grasp on what it means to be a journalist. I am very excited to start writing for Hufpo with this new found knowledge. I have learned what the common protocol is for interviewing someone, and what is most important in covering a story. I once saw using photos in a story as something that was not necessary; I saw it extra gloss that wasn’t needed. I now understand how important photojournalism is for illustrating a story. These are just a few examples of what I have come to learn, overall I am a more well rounded journalist now.

In short I have learned from JR101 the core of what it means to be a journalist. I have learned from my reporter that keeping a fast and steady flow of information to readers can directly lead to success as a journalist. A good work ethic can go a long way.

I am sad to see this experience come to a close. I hope to cross paths with the rest of my piers on the road to becoming a journalist. Until then I wish you all the best of luck, I’ll see you all on the frontline.

Interview with Shahien Nasiripour

December 13, 2009

by Max Fox 

The Huffington Post is a free online publication with a very larger following than most news papers. It’s easy accessibility ,online user interaction and large staff of talented writers attributes to its large success. I sat down and talked with Shahien Nasiripour, one of the staff reporters for the Huffington Post’s Business section. 

Max: How long have you been writing for the Huffington Post? 

Shahien: I’ve been a staff writer for three months now. 

M: How are you liking it? 

S: It’s great, I really enjoy writing for the Huffington Post. It’s a really important job writing for their business section with the ongoing housing crisis and the current state of the economy. There’s no better time to write for a business beat, we’re at a imperative point in the economic crisis and the rules of the game are changing. Its great to write for a publication with such a large reach, influence and fan base. I also have such a large free dome to cover an array of topics, from politics to the economy, there’s a lot of freedom and latitude.  It’s very appealing and fun, it makes going to work fun. 

M: What other Business publications have you worked for, and what draws you to it? 

S: This is actually my first gig writing for a business beat, I did some investigative journalism for ESPN and publications in Florida. I’m drawn to the business beat because I have to report on what’s constantly going on in the world with the economy. I have to keep up with it and its ever changing nature. It’s a cycle of not being able to learn enough fast enough. I wanted to get paid to learn.

M: Does the current state of the economy make your job easier or more difficult? 

S: Well I have to report on how and why in real time, I have to move as fast as possible, which makes it difficult. I have to read it and learn it then turn it around to the readers. However its easy in that everyone is interested. Anyone with any sort of loan is being effected by the economy. More and more people are realizing that everyone took a hit on this one. 1 in 7 homeowners are in foreclosure or in danger of doing so. Wall Street is effecting Main Street, people are becoming more engaged because the recession is becoming more tangible. When you know people want to know what you’re writing it makes you want to be better, It pushes you. There’s a insatiable  need for information. 

M: What do you think is the most important thing to report on? 

S: What’s going on on capital hill is very important, they’re re writing the rules on how you get credit or a mortgage. The rules of the game are being re written because of the fall out of the economy. There’s also the failure of the bailout, it hasn’t been working like the government said it would. Banks took money to patch themselves up and didn’t give enough credit out to people who are in need. Now there’s less spending and more staff cutes, its a vicious circle. 

M: So is the blame to be put on the banks? 

S: Well Banks aren’t totally to blame, they aren’t seeing great opportunities to lend. Consumers need cash so they can spend it, but the banks are too optimistic. Why make a loan on possibly losing money? Its not as easy as saying banks are at blame. DC folks say that the banks should be pushed on making loans, crappy loans. Its not as easy as saying the banks should lend more. Don’t throw good money after bad. 

M: where do you think the economy will be in a year?

S: There’s no way I can answer that. It’s an upward climb. We have national debt, folks aren’t lending, the public is over leverage, peoples debt is at a higher level than their income. 

M: Where are you going to be in a year?

S: I may stay here or jump ship, I don’t know. I like what I’m covering. 

M: any advice for young aspiring journalists out there? 

S: If you want to be a foreign correspondent, move there and immerse yourself and write for whoever. If you want to cover business start writing as much as you can now. There are tons of papers out there and a lot ways to get involved. I can’t tell you how important tech skills are. Having basic skills and knowing how to access data bases and paint a coherent picture are imperative. And also just an overall point for reporting: find people responsible and effected and talk about it.

New obstacles face small business owners

December 7, 2009

by Max Fox 

Small business were facing the problem of banks not giving out enough money to jump start their companies; however small businesses may now face another set of obstacles ahead of them. Shahien Nasiripour reports:

No Easy Jumpstart To Get Small Business Hiring Again

With the economic crisis stirring, its complicated to understand why its so hard to fix. Every day new problems appear and old problems get worse. It seems as if nothing is getting better and we’re just plummeting lower and lower into a recession. A new obstacle that has been implemented is the real estate value in commercial and residential markets.  “He says the reason behind the lack of available credit is due to plummeting real estate values in the commercial and residential markets, as well as significantly decreased consumption. Simply put, consumers aren’t spending as much so businesses don’t have much reason to grow.” Basically the source of the problem is becoming the reason for the problem, were getting stuck in a vicious circle of financial debt. 

Gary M. Sturm from Smallbusinessreveiw.com, reports “… the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a shortfall of 10 million workers in the U.S. by 2012”. So its a statistic that we will continue to fall short of our goals and fall short of solving this economic crisis as a whole. (http://smallbusinessreview.com/human_resources/hiring_older_workers/)

In addition to that issue “In addition, as of October banks were holding nearly $1 trillion in excess reserves, according to the most recent federal banking data. That figure is in excess of what’s mandated by government regulators. By contrast, in the decade before the financial crisis blew up in September 2008, the nation’s banks held an average of $1.7 billion in excess reserves.” So now that we are in a recession the banks are becoming paranoid and holding on to to more money than before the recession which draws us into a weaker state fiscally.

“But thus far, none of the major proposals to boost small business lending calls for more than $50 billion. Merski says they would only make an impact “at the margin.” James K. Galbraith, an economist at the University of Texas at Austin who’s called for a second stimulus package, agrees.” We aren’t getting enough aid from resources, we are just receiving small treatment in small doses, nothing major. No one is really taking a major risk and as a result we’re not getting a major change. 

This economic crisis will continue until a bank or a company or anyone takes a major risk and puts both feet forward instead of taking baby steps one foot at a time.

Banks fail

November 30, 2009

By Max Fox

With the economic crisis raging on the banks aren’t helping the suffering of the American people. Tax payers are now taking a greater loss because of the banks inability to comply.  

Shahien Nasiripour reports, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/24/in-crazy-new-landscape-fo_n_369177.html

More banks are collapsing now and “Only three new banks were formed in the three month period…The smallest quarterly total since Word War II”. It isn’t news to anyone that we are in tough times economically. Banks aren’t lending as much as they should be, and that’s not helping. 

The banks aren’t taking chances, they’re playing it safe. Small businesses aren’t being helped by the banks because they are in “defensive stances”. The banks don’t want to risk losing more. If more small businesses could be stimulated more jobs could be created. If more stimulus was given businesses could start investing again. A greater dent could be made in the efforts against the economic crisis. 

MSNBC has also spoken out against the bank’s lack of effort. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33843049/

They report that “the nation’s biggest banks aren’t lending enough and warned the economy could take another turn for the worse”. The article goes on to explain that the banks fearsome mentality in lending could not be timed worse. This could be a way to get further out of this pit of fiscal disaster america is experiencing, however the banks don’t want to lend money they aren’t  100% sure they wont get a return on. 

MSNBC and Shahien both agree that the banks should give more money and take more chances. I do totally agree that the banks should take more risks with their lending because it has to be done, we are in a time of urgency. That being said, I do see why the banks aren’t doing so. They are trying to protect their own money, it is selfish but understandable. A few failed loans could result in the closing of yet another bank and the loss of more jobs. While they are trying to protect themselves in a time of uncertainty, they should be more conscious of the people around them who need help. 

I overall feel that banks should give more than they are right now, however I think the associated press is being hard on them. Everyone is going through rough times financially , including the banks and in dark times like these sometimes one has to look out for their own neck. However that doesn’t mean they should refuse the majority of small businesses looking for loans. They should be more lenient  with their lending policies overall. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Emerson college visited by influential members of Boston Globe

November 30, 2009

by Max Fox 

Steve Ainsly and Baron Martin graced the presence of Emerson with a Q and A forum with an audience of aspiring journalist. They discussed how they kept the Globe from going under during a financial crisis, their thoughts on the future of journalism, the impertinent fundamentals of being a good journalist, and other journalistic matters. 

Even before the recession hit the Globe was experiencing financial woes. The paper was on track to lose a substantial amount of money. Steve Ainsly describes it as one of his most difficult decisions, in having to deal with it. He had to reopen contracts with unions to save money, and was afraid their dire situation would trickle down to the general public and becom national knowledge. He was concerned with the professional embarrassment.

Before things really went south for the Globe Steve brought in consultants to help them fiscally. The consultants worked closely with the news room , Baron was against it. He thought they didn’t belong there, they were encroaching on his creative territory. 

The two clashed on this issue, however this wasn’t a bad sign. This showed that they were both doing their jobs and looking out for separate  interest of the paper. If they didn’t clash it would show that they weren’t doing their jobs to their full extent. 

However the financial issue was still at play. 

Baron claimed that if the Globe couldn’t extract enough money from the workforce they would have to close down. They imposed a 23 % pay cut which lead to a lot of labor strife. They were in trouble and could have potentially been shut down. 

The company was put up for for sale and eventually bought by the NY Times. Prior to them being bought up Baron described the atmosphere as “uncertainty in the news room”. No one knew where they would be the next day, however Baron stepped up and saw them through the period of uncertainty , he insured they would continue to have integrity and keep their people.

This ties into Baron’s ideal that you have to live with uncertainty. In this particular situation, they weren’t sure who was going to buy them, if they were going to be sold off, who would keep them or sell them. It was truly a time of uncertainty. “Its hard to think of suprises because everything seems to happen”. This encapsulates what it means to be knee deep in journalism, you you have to adapt to your surroundings because they are always changing.

The man who Obama should have listened to

November 16, 2009

by Max Fox 

Obama released a plan to help home owners in fear of foreclosure by supplying 75 billion dollars in taxpayer fund to reduce interest rate payments. A Yale economist came forward and claimed that it was destined for failure. According to Shahien Nasiripour of the Huffington Post, he was right. 

Shahien Nasiripour reports.

With the economic crisis raging on, the Obama administration is trying their hardest to alleviate the pain for the American people. However the new plan that was launched to help homeowners in danger of foreclosure by reducing their interest rate has fallen short of its mark. In light of this failure a Yale economist has been recognized for realizing Obama’s new plan’s fault before it was passed.  John D. Geanakoplos claimed that reducing principal for people who owe more than their house’s are worth is more important than reducing interest rate. 

Basically why the plan didn’t work is it took baby steps instead of getting to the heart of the problem. There are too many homeowners who are at risk economically. The plan didn’t make a big move  fiscally and because of it nothing is really being helped. 

The Yale economist isn’t the only one who finds a problem with the new plan.  An Op-Ed column from the NY Times states: “The Obama plan, which provides subsidies to lenders who modify troubled loans, has been flawed from the start. It has no teeth to compel lenders to participate. And it was primarily designed to help borrowers who defaulted because their loans had exploding interest rates or other features that made them suddenly unaffordable.” 

The column goes on to explain how most people at risk can’t even afford this plan. People who are unemployed will have trouble acquiring help through this plan. More people are defaulting since the plan has been enacted which shows that it is obviously not working. 

When it comes down to it I am pro Obama; however I feel like the Obama administration really dropped the ball on this one. The bottom line is they didn’t take enough of a chance on the new plan. It doesn’t make a significant difference. Homeowners who were going to have to foreclose continue to foreclose after this plan was passed and people continue to default. Nothing has really changed since this plan was enacted and things have only been getting worse. Geanakoplos was right “this plan doesn’t have enough teeth”.

New bill keeps public in the dark about financial stability

November 8, 2009

With the financial crisis on everyone’s mind, a new bill set by congress hopes to ease the situation. However will this bill do more harm than good? The newly introduced bill seems to have good intentions of taking another step out of this recession however it keeps information from the public regarding our current state of economic crisis. Is this a fair trade off? 

Shahien Nasiripour reports on this situation: 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/06/house-panel-may-keep-publ_n_348685.html

This article strikes me as particularly interesting because Shahien states the facts clearly in a non bias manner; however I came away from the article feeling like he was arguing against the bill. He presents the information as it is in order for the viewer to make their own decisions. It could have been from my own bias of the situation, but I feel like Shahien was on the side of the public who is being denied information from this bill. 

Shahien goes on to discuss how the concern for this bill that is being created, stems from a lack of communication. There are two different definition of  what the real “threat” is and this causes a problem among the American people. 

Because regulators don’t exactly see eye to eye on what the clear “threat” of the matter is, the solution isn’t going to be accepted with open arms by everyone. Now that information isn’t being relayed to congress and then the public by the bill, I think this will create more tension and issues to come. Hopefully I’m wrong, but right now I’m putting my money on this bill having a negative turn out.

first post

October 31, 2009

Hi world, my name is Max Fox, I am a WLP major at Emerson College. I grew up in Brooklyn NY and now reside in Boston. My interest in journalism began in High School when I wrote for my school’s paper. I now write for the Huffington Post comedy section and hope to one day hold a job as a journalist. I currently take a Journalism class at Emerson that requires me to start this Blog . I’ll be following a Huffington Post writer who I met at a Huffington Post conference in Maine this summer. His name is Shahien Nasiripour and he’s a journalist with a focus on business news. He’s an avid writer and spends his time in Boston and New York City. Here’s a link to an article about Barney Frank. 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/29/barney-frank-no-more-secr_n_339263.html

Hello world!

September 21, 2009

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