|| Local business is a topic of major interest to your
viewers. In a NewsLab survey,
two-thirds of the people we talked to said they'd watch more local
news if it covered more local business activities and jobs. With the
economy in trouble and the US in a war on terrorism, there are hundreds
of stories you could be doing on the local business front. To do them
well, what do you need to know?
- Financials: Check for all publicly available
records on each business you cover. Begin with general business
Yahoo Finance, Hoover's
(advanced searches require a fee) or Bloomberg
to find stock offerings, stock price, etc. Your state
department of revenue may have corporation filings online.
filings to find officers and top shareholders, sales and earnings,
profit/loss statements, annual
reports. Look for trends over time, not just snapshots of
current conditions. Check the company's own Web site. Not sure
how to read financial reports? This guide
from IBM can help.
- Product: What does the company produce? How
is it used and by whom? Track down users or consumers and ask
them to evaluate the product or service. Get B-roll at the same
time! Check Better
Business Bureau, consumer
and regulatory agencies for complaints and actions.
- Industry: What sector does the company belong
to? Where does it rank in that sector--locally or nationally?
Check trade groups, business
associations, economic analysts, academics. What are the company's
major competitors? How are the companies different? Ask how the
competition would evaluate the company.
- Economic impact: What does this company mean
to the economy of the town, region or state? Where does it rank
and what does it contribute? Check number of employees, payroll,
growth trends, future plans. Consult chamber
of commerce, local political leaders, census
- Winners and losers: Who is helped by this
company's success or failure, and who may be hurt by it? Who is
included and who is left out?
- History: What is the company's track record?
Check for bankruptcy
filings, reorganizations, past layoffs or labor disputes.
Any skeletons in the closet? Search business web sites and chat
rooms like Raging
Bull or Motley
Fool for what's being said.
- Who cares? What makes this company or program
worth the viewers' attention? Is it unique in some way--a first
or the only one of its kind? Look for specific details that distinguish
the company from others in the same field or region.
- Other resources: FACSNET has reporting
tools for covering business. Check out the Society
of American Business Editors and Writers, and the National
Center for Business Journalism.