The business beat wasn’t always a staple of local TV and radio coverage, but the recession and recovery have put business-related stories front and center. If you want to do more than just scratch the surface, you have to know where to look.
Financials: Check for all publicly available records on each business you cover. Begin with general business sites like Yahoo Finance or Bloomberg to find stock offerings, stock price, etc. Your state department of revenue may have corporation filings online. Review SEC 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. Make sure to search Footnoted for “hidden gems” in the company’s corporate statements. 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 video 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? Are those companies in trouble or succeeding, too, and if not, why not?
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 data.
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.
Is all of this effort worth it? See for yourself what an Indianapolis TV reporter found by digging in to a local business story.