If you're following the controversy surrounding Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., you may have been surprised to see Plastics News mentioned in a Yahoo Finance blog column today, "News Corp: The Murdoch Discount and the Murdoch Premium." I certainly was. But the reference isn't bad. No one is accusing PN of hacking into anyone's phone or bribing Scotland Yard. The column actually focuses on how some parts of Murdoch's empire might become less attractive to prospective newspaper, radio and TV reporters, content producers and business partners as a result of the hacking scandal that brought down News of the World. The Wall Street Journal, for example, historically has been able to pay less than premium wages for talented journalists -- at least according to Daniel Gross, author of the Contrary Indicator blog on Yahoo Finance. That's because of the Journal's prestige, as well as its benefits and working conditions. That's where Gross brings up Plastics News. "It's a lot easier [for journalists] getting your phone call returned when you work for the Journal than when you work for Plastics News," Gross wrote parenthetically. That got my attention, so I contacted Gross this morning. Why Plastics News? "I was trying to match up a broad-based, mass publication with instant name recognition in financial and corporate capitals, on the one hand, with a smaller trade publication that serves a niche," he wrote. "And Plastics News came to mind, not entirely at random. One of my oldest friends in journalism, Adam Lashinsky (now at Fortune) had his first real job in journalism as Washington correspondent for Plastics News. "We met when he was an intern in Crain's D.C. bureau while I was working at the New Republic, and he would frequently mention the challenge of getting non-industry players to return phone calls compared with the comparative ease competitors at The Washington Post, New Republic, and WSJ had." And that's perfectly reasonable. The editorial staff at Plastics News has about 200 years of experience covering the polymers sector -- that's not an exaggeration -- so when we call sources in the plastics industry, we're well known. But when we call sources on Wall Street or Capitol Hill, sometimes it takes some extra effort to get the information we need. And that was even tougher back when Lashinsky was PN's reporter in Washington, in the early 1990s. (I've never been in contact with Gross until today, but Lashinsky and I started at PN within a few months of each other, and we still stay in touch). Gross added that he was "definitely not intending to cast aspersions on Plastics News, Crain [Communications, our parent company], or any other trade publication. Simply making the point (learned in part from experience), that it's easier to get a phone call returned in many precincts when you're at a publication whose name the sources know and to which they subscribe." That's exactly how I interpreted the column, and why I shared it with Plastics Blog readers today, who might be interested in some of the challenges and issues faced by financial journalists.
Plastics News named in Murdoch column -- the inside story
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