Good afternoon from Halifax #CAJ15. I'm Carl Meyer, community manager at the CAJ and your session's liveblogger. We've got a great panel here with Christopher Waddell, Carty Chair in Business and Financial Journalism, Carleton University. Remember to use the conference hashtag #CAJ15 and if you'd like, the session-specific hashtag #CAJ15money.
We've started. We're looking at the money component in stories. How important is it in any given story? For example, what do people stand to lose, and how much?
It's difficult to find out the wealth of individuals; a double-edged sword for society. But you can find out things like mortgages, loans, property ownership.
Private companies, shares aren't on stock exchanges. Public companies are required to have disclosures of financial results and material facts. An example of the latter is Steve Jobs' health.
Business stories are people and money. The things that people do in business are inherently interesting, Chris argues, often because they involve people taking risks.
Structure of a firm. Starting with the board of directors. Boards should be made up of independents, people without direct relationships to companies, although may involve a CEO, which a board hires and fires. Great attention is paid to boards in recent years.
Question from the audience on how to appoint directors and whether shareholders are involved. When vacancy comes up, board will nominate new candidates, and shareholders can get a chance to vote on it, Chris notes, although he also mentions there is the idea of a cushy relationship, friends or family sitting on each others' boards for example.
Wi-fi in here isn't the best so my photo uploads haven't worked out so far, but the room is pretty packed.
Next level of firm organizational structure is Management. How company is structured gives an idea of priorities, he says. Is there a vice president of environmental management, for example?
Ah there we go. That's from a few minutes ago but gives you an impression of the room.
Financial information: quarterly reports are great, Chris says. Arm yourself with that knowledge and then do interviews bolstered with real context.
Publicly traded companies must have annual meetings within a stated period. Anyone who owns a share can go to annual meetings and ask questions of management and directors. Shareholders also vote on members of board of directors.
MICs also mention what happens when the company is taken over, Chris notes. Perhaps the CEO is guaranteed a golden parachute, and wouldn't mind being taken over. Some companies are a reflection of the people running the show, he suggests.
Quarterly reports: compare quarter to quarter, year over year, or else it might be apples and oranges, as companies can do seasonal business, for example.
Do your research before you do your interviews. "Good business journalism is about both people and numbers," Chris warns. You need to know the facts to ask good questions. Biz types will put a good gloss on things. A good wrap for this session.