Tales of Passion, Hope and Greed
Bad business writing can get wrapped up in the privilege of access and dote on the personalities of the business leaders who grant reporters entry into their often-hidden realms, but the bright stars of the business-writing world are capable of seeing the facts behind the facades, and the human blemishes that lurk beneath big money and bigger hype. Readers need compassionate, investigative writing that does not pander to power or privilege, writing that offers humanity and perspective, and the best business writers and reporters deliver these in abundance.
The editors of the 2002 edition of The Best Business Stories of the Year, both well-respected business columnists and authors, have gathered the best work by writers who take the reader into account when reporting on business. Business touches everybody and everything, and these stories are pertinent to marketers, financial analysts and investors, as well as the average, curious reader who wants to know more about the shrimp he eats or the SUV she buys.
The Human Factor
This book holds within it the best business reporting to appear in magazines and newspapers from July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2001, but also includes two pieces about the World Trade Center and Pentagon tragedies.
The human factor is prevalent throughout all of these stories, whose topics range from African babies who starve because African political powers and Unicef have kicked out baby-formula makers, to the business decisions made by fashion magnate Tommy Hilfiger. Exploring the logical and the illogical in the options chosen by the powerful few, and the repercussions that reverberate through the public at large, these stories are as gripping as any other news stories, and are just as relevant to anyone looking for tales of hope, passion, vanity and greed. These are the same motivations that compel people who are not constantly looking at the bottom line for justification, but a business framework often raises the stakes beyond mere politics and celebrity. Don't let the "business" label fool you: These are some of the best stories of the year, business or not.
Greed Is a Common Villain
Greed is a common thread that runs through many of the stories compiled here. Through these reports, we are privy to the unbridled greed of two Long Island stock brokers who stole millions of dollars from their clients, the greed of investment banks that reward analysts for writing reports that boost business, and the greed of convicted insider trader Michael Milken, who might have been pardoned by the president had it not been for this New Yorker piece written by James B. Stewart.
Beyond the greed and hubris of the powerful moneymakers, there are also more straightforward business stories about the media campaigns launched by people like Charles Schwab, and the marketing techniques of others who use new strategies to launch their new products and technologies. Along with no-nonsense reporting that cuts through the mystical buzzwords of marketing, these writers get to the hearts of their stories without falling into the traps they work to reveal. Kerry A. Dolan and Robyn Meredith, in their story "Ghost Cars, Ghost Brands," are able to open up the issue of branding and the supposed extra value we get from a brand, and bring to light the fact that the quality we often count on from a parent company is sometimes manufactured somewhere else.
Long and short stories make up this diverse collection of business journalism, and as longer pieces take the investigative report to new levels of captivating reading, the short editorial, "Real Masters of the Universe," written by Bruce Nussbaum in Business Week, takes a deep look at the Sept. 11 tragedy and opens up the larger picture of American work in just eight beautifully poignant paragraphs. Business is a complex topic to climb, but the journalistic works captured here serve as examples of the ambitious heights business writing can achieve.
Why Soundview Likes This Book
Great work that has appeared in media outlets as diverse as Wired, Forbes, Inc., the St. Petersburg Times, The Atlantic, New York magazine, Worth and Mother Jones comes together here to demonstrate the current vitality of business journalism, and the many topics that can fall into this category. Business journalism is alive and well, and filled with as much human drama as can be found in any other genre of reporting. The stories compiled in The Best Business Stories of the Year are wonderful examples of how great stories can provide readers with greater clarity about the richest men in the world as well as the many other players who work behind the scenes of our economy.