Tips for Covering the economy

Covering the economy? Who isn’t, these days? But it’s not always easy figuring out which business and financial stories to pursue, much less how to make sense of them.   RTNDA is offering assistance.  Here is a notice I got today from them. 

Money Matters can help. This online resource from the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation and sponsored by NEFE, the National Endowment for Financial Education, offers story ideas, tipsheets and examples of what other news organizations are doing. We update it several times a week with fresh content that you can put to use immediately. We also provide links to background, online tools, and training opportunities for journalists in all media. We hope you’ll check in often to see what’s new. Please contribute your own suggestions and story examples by adding a comment to any page or by sending us an email.

Earlier this year, The RTNDA Communicator Magazine featured a couple of my ideas.  Here is a link to that:

TwitterDead – Schott’s Vocab Blog –

TwitterDead – Schott’s Vocab Blog –

Celebrities whose deaths have been erroneously reported in cyberspace.

“Viruses may spread quickly on the Internet, but hoaxes can be pretty contagious, too,” Monica Corcoran wrote recently in The Times:

In the same week that Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died, the Web became a hotbed of made-up death reports about various celebrities.

Jeff Goldblum was the first to go. A headline on Google News read, “Jeff Goldblum Has Died, Falls to Death on Set!” Details were murky, but just specific enough to sound plausible. The story went that Mr. Goldblum, 56, had plummeted off the 60-foot Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand while filming a movie.

What started out as a prank soon took on a life of its own. Twitter users retweeted the item, and the community became an echo chamber. Facebook members chimed in.

By the week’s end, the celebrity death toll had turned into a conga line.

Other “late” celebrities included: George Clooney, Miley Cyrus, Harrison Ford, Natalie Portman, Randy Jackson and Britney Spears.

OTNB Story Idea: How are closed car dealers disposing of customer records?

Story Idea: How are closed car dealers disposing of customer records?

See how a station in Denver handled this story which can involve a sensitive station client.

Richard Freeman said he made an astonishing discovery Friday.Freeman said he purchased some auction items from Anderson Kia’s going out of business sale and made a stop at the dealer’s trash bins to throw away some trash before loading them into his vehicle.”When I opened up the Dumpster, I noticed it was plum full of files,” said Freeman.

Freeman said there were 10 trash containers in total brimming with sensitive customer information. There were copies of driver’s licenses, checks, Social Security numbers and bank information.”I was astonished, simply astonished. It just disgusts you,” said Freeman.

Advice For The One Man Band – er, Multiplatform Journalist!

One Man Band Reporter Steve Mort offers practical advice for solo reporters
One Man Band Reporter Steve Mort offers practical advice for solo reporters

One of the hottest topics at this week’s Radio-Television News Directors Association convention in Las Vegas is the move toward Multi-platform reporting. While much of the talk in Vegas is preparing journalists for this new reality, Steve Mort is talking practical advice and technique on his new blog, The One Man Band Reporter.

Mort is a journalist, producer, videographer and editor based in Orlando. Among Steve’s pearls, “Shooting a standup is an art in of itself. But shooting your own standup, ie., trying to be in front of and behind the camera at the same time, is challenging. The key is to get the basics right so it doesn’t look/sound woeful – and check the results before packing up and leaving the location.”


Many conference attendees are blogging and tweeting the sessions. Mizzou’s Jen Reeves is bullish on what Facebook offers journalists.

“Facebook is savvy with its product pages. Not only does it give you the opportunity to promote your newsroom’s brand, you can get creative, promote and track the activity on your page.  What’s even better, Facebook has written up how to do it. It’s very smart”, says Reeves in her blog, Jen Reeves – New Media Mind.


News Directors are learning about Twitter for Journalists.   Even panelists have been caught while presenting!


Turnout among News Directors is down this year, but enthusiastic students are filling the void.
Steve Safran noted,

“At the Monday morning session, “Moving Content Across Platforms,” the room was packed – standing room only – and the face of the room was, well, young. I know we often write “I hate to generalize,” but the generalization is apt. The young journalists are investing in themselves. There are far fewer media managers here.”

Hope to post links to some of the presentations, powerpoints, and videos as the week goes on.  Stay tuned!

OTNB Story Idea: Tough Economy-Find Missing Money

Missing Money ( was featured on CBS’s Early Show today. helps you located your money, or a relative’s assets, that went missing and are now inside the $33 billion in unclaimed property on government books.

Yes, $33 billion of missing money.

Items include more than cash. They can include trust distributions, insurance payments, CDs, even the contents of safe deposit boxes. These can be yours or a relative’s that you are entitled to. Along with the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators’ Web site, their website, endorsed by NAUPA, helps search the files for you easier.

To learn more about this, click HERE

So, is it safe? Here is more on that part of the story.

OTNB Story Idea: One Layoff Leads to Another

Alana Semuels at Los Angeles Times writes a great piece following the dominoes when someone loses a job.  This would make a GREAT television story:

layoffsRogelio Valdez waits for customers in his Reseda barbershop. Business is down 20% as his regulars forgo trims. He has extended his hours and eliminated vacations to help make ends meet. A video game company lets go a writer, who then lays off his nanny, who stops visiting his barber, who can no longer afford the waitress’ meals.

As the recession deepens across the country, touching millions of individuals, it links people through countless cutbacks and layoffs. One job loss leads to another, much the way a wobbly domino can topple the whole row.
Minor financial decisions — a penny pinched here, a dollar saved there — build, rippling through a chain of strangers.

This story can be done in any town in America. I look forward to seeing your results.

Covering the Economy: Hoarding Gold and Ammo

In a redux of the controlled hysteria in the days before Y2k, some people are stashing essentials in case civilization, as we know it, disintegrates. Here are some story ideas:

Stashing Gold at Home
NEWSWEEK is reporting “with prices setting new records, the worried wealthy are piling up ingots in home safes.” Read the story here.

Gun shops are NOT suffering through the tough times.
Apparently, President Obama is the best gun salesman we’ve had in the last 50 years. Gun shops are NOT suffering through the tough times. LA Times is reporting FBI background checks on prospective gun owners increased 8% since the election.
Had conversations with two people this weekend who are shoring up their cache of guns and ammo. They plan to be ready to ward of looters and protect their families if social structure unravels. And, they are still not confident the new President won’t cave into the far left and restrict their rights.

Obama’s Tax on Ammunition
Fueled by one of those politically-motivated email hoxes, another of my friends is stocking up on ammo. “You haven’t heard that Obama is going to raise the price of ammo 500%?” he asked. He believes President Obama has included an ammunition tax hike on ammunition in the omnibus spending bill.

The Orlando Sentinel reports: “Most in demand is handgun ammunition, including 9 mm and .45-caliber for semiautomatic pistols and .38-caliber for revolvers. Clerks at local Walmart stores.. say those sizes, along with .22-caliber, are on back order at the chain’s warehouses.”

Go by your local gun shop. I bet the sign out front will tell you to stock up before the price goes up. and, indeed, some ammo is in short supply.

Real Cause of Ammo Price Hikes

The reason for ammunition prices going up may have less to do with Obama, or the economy, and more to do with metals prices.  MSNBC wrote about this last June.