Friday, July 28, 2006

Conference coverage: Ethics

Resolving ethics issues: A town hall meeting

Rance Crain, president, Crain Communications and editor-in-chief of Advertising Age
Jeffrey Seglin, ethics consultant and professor of publishing at Emerson College
Portia Stewart, national vice president, former president of the Kansas City Chapter, and editor of Firstline
Roy Harris, national president and senior editor for CFO
Paul Heney, national past president and current president for TABPI

Summary: ASBPE conducted a survey on ethics and had a 43 percent response rate. The survey found that 40 percent of editors have low job satisfaction because they have less resources and more pressure from advertisers.

Advertising Age Case Study: By having integrity, a magazine can gain trust from its readers and have stronger ancillary products. Rance Crain said editorial excellence makes good business sense, and it’s critical to get as close to the facts as a magazine can get. He discussed an ethical issue at his own magazine, Advertising Age, in which the sales team sold a mock front page of its magazine to an advertiser. All the cover stories were about the advertiser and in similar fonts to the ones used by the magazine. The mock cover didn’t go out to regular readers, but it was distributed to 1,000 attendees at an industry event. The person responsible for approving the cover wrap was fired.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Conference coverage: Research and investigation

Covering public companies: Digging up the numbers and information that matter

Mark Skertic, business reporter for the Chicago Tribune and member of Investigative Reporters and Editors

Summary: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) serves as the investor’s advocate and gathers information for investors about publicly traded companies. The SEC makes public companies' information available on their websites, and reporters can go back 10 years to find certain company records and track its financial performance. Writers can find out such information as pay and benefit details, stock options, business backgrounds of board members and employees and details about lawsuits and what the company’s competitors are doing. They can also find out about what the shareholders want for the company by going to

Helpful websites: When Mark first started writing about public companies, he had to fly to Washington, D.C., and sit in a windowless room at a government building sifting through paper records. He can now search all the documents online at not only, but also other websites such as and To find court records, reporters can visit and pay 8 cents a page to download court documents.

SEC Filings: Reporters need to know what to look for when searching through filings. Here's what to look for:
  • Proxy statements often tell which direction a company is going.
  • A company often files an 8K every time there is a major event such as a sale of assets, a change in management or a judgment in a major lawsuit.
  • When an investor buys more than 5 percent of the company’s stock, the company is required to file a 13D.
  • A Form 144 is for when an insider intends to sell shares.
  • While there’s no replacement for reading all of the SEC filings, reporters can often find valuable information in the footnotes because companies often think that if they put something in tiny type, people are less likely to read it.

ASBPE National Conference review

The ASBPE National Conference provided us with ample material to share with Kansas City Chapter members.

In the days that follow, look for posts from our chapter president, Amy Fischbach. She'll share the main points that she took away from the two-day event.

And I'll gather up the best coverage from the web, as well as add in a thought or two of my own.

Oh, and I can't forget the awards. Congratulations to all Azbee winners!

KC chapter president Amy Fischbach's conference coverage
Stay tuned; there's more to come!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

And the ASBPE Magazine of the Year finalists are...

In the under 80,000 circulation division, the finalists are:

In the 80,000 and over division, the finalists are:

The winner will be announced on July 20 at the Azbee Awards of Excellence banquet during the ASBPE’s National Editorial Conference.

What makes these 20 magazines great? The judges evaluated these pubs on:

  • Writing, reporting, and editing.
  • Usefulness to the reader.
  • Editorial organization.
  • Interaction with readers.
  • Layout and design.
Congrats to the finalists. And for the rest of us, I included the links to the pubs' websites for a reason: Ideas to inspire changes to improve the publication I work on.