Born Dec. 5, 1951, has spent her 41-year career in the business news department of The Dallas Morning News, starting as a summer intern. Hall writes a twice-weekly column that primarily focuses on unusual personalities and businesses in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
I started down my career path in the pre-dawn age of business journalism of 1972. Remarkably, The Dallas Morning News’ business editor, Al Altwegg, had an MBA from Wharton. The News had bought a suburban newspaper he owned and “acquired” him in the process.
I knew nothing about business but accepted the internship in the department because it was the only slot left for summer help. Frankly, I was conflicted – elated to have a job, any job; intimidated because it was covering a topic that was completely foreign to me; and somewhat offended because I was being banished to the backwaters of the newsroom.
Little did I know that I would become editor of the department 10 years later or that business would gain such prominence that it would join sports as one of The News’ two “franchise departments.”
During my novice days, Altwegg taught me lessons that I’ve carried with me for four decades.
The first is that business news is nothing more or less than how people put food on their tables. Some eat sirloin. Some eat hamburger. Some go hungry. It’s the how and the why that makes for interesting reading.
Personal success is more about freedom than money in the bank.
Everybody has a boss.
And everyone and every organization is a business story waiting to be told. It’s your job to discover what that story is.
As business editor, I tried to guide reporters to seek out the humanity in even the most arcane topics.
I’ve spent the last two decades as business columnist, primarily focusing on entrepreneurs. Happily, Dallas is fertile ground for such extraordinary folks.
I’ve also had enormous fun profiling celebrities unaccustomed to seeing their faces on business pages – glass maestro Dale Chihuly, opera diva Beverly Sills, Broadway tap dancer Tommy Tune, actress Glenn Close and Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson.
It didn’t take long to peg Johnson’s management-by-objective style in 1992, as he entered his fourth, and ultimately triumphant, season with the Cowboys. He saw himself as a motivator, a strategic planner and a manager willing to make tough decisions and act on them.
“Above everything else, the thing that matters most to me as CEO is that we win,” Johnson said. “There is only one goal. If anyone in the organization doesn’t have that goal, then I get somebody new in the organization.”
By the way, Johnson’s hair really doesn’t move.
Sills, the world’s most famous soprano, was the first performing artist to serve as chairman of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
“The boardroom is my territory. I really don’t let anyone have an inch of the property,” she said in a 1996 interview. “I’m tough, we finish on time, and I get everything discussed. But by God, it never gets heavy. I haven’t got time for that.”
Good business journalism is good storytelling.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Born Oct. 4, 1942, is Bloomberg L.P.’s chief content officer. He previously worked at The Wall Street Journal for 23 years, including nine as managing editor, at Forbes for two years as an executive editor, and at Time Inc. for 11 years as editor in chief.
I edited my first feature story during a brief stint on The Wall Street Journal’s Page One desk in 1972. Since then I have often been asked to list the toughest stories I have worked on. They weren’t about wars or politics or crooked executives. They were about Dow Jones & Co. and Time Warner Inc., the two public companies that employed me for more the 35 years.
The two other companies I have worked for — Forbes Inc. and Bloomberg L.P. – are privately held and do everything they can to avoid coverage in their publications. Publicly held companies don’t have that luxury.
While media owners and business executives aren’t compelled to tell their journalists what they are doing, they worry readers and viewers presume the journalists know what is going on at their own companies. Editors, who often know that’s not the case, run the risk of appearing timid if they duck stories about themselves or appearing silly if they print stuff that’s wrong.
While I worked at The Journal, Dow Jones was controlled by Clarence Barron’s descendants and it rarely made news until March 1, 1984, about six months after I had become The Journal’s managing editor. That was the day I learned from John Fedders, then chief of enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission, that the SEC was investigating R. Foster Winans, one of The Journal’s “Heard on the Street” writers.
Winans was suspected of leaking to traders the contents of columns prior to publication, and shortly after learning of the investigation, Winans was charged with insider trading. He was convicted on 59 counts of fraud, and, after failing to have the case overturned on appeal, he subsequently served nine months in a federal prison.
Although the charges against Winans damaged The Journal’s reputation, I believed the way we covered ourselves would have greater impact on the paper’s long-term credibility. How could we assert the right to investigate other companies and write about their misdeeds if we were unwilling to cover ourselves with rigor? I told the staff covering Winans that we must never let competition beat us on the story. It never did.
Our most exhaustive reporting resulted in a lengthy front-page profile of Winans. Soon after the story appeared, I received a visit from Donald A. Macdonald, vice chairman of Dow Jones. Macdonald, who had risen through the ranks of the advertising department, was aghast that I had “washed our dirty linen in public.”
Although I was new to my job, I didn’t hesitate to throw him out of my office. I knew that the people who really ran the company, Dow Jones CEO Warren Phillips and Peter Kann, then The Journal’s publisher, would support me. Both were journalists who understood the need to cover ourselves aggressively.
I worried after joining Time Warner in 1994 that things might be different. Although Time Inc.’s reputation for editorial independence had been good, it was sullied when Time was slow to cover the company’s merger with Warner Communications Inc. in 1989.
Following the merger, the company was run by Steve Ross, an entertainment impresario who had begun his career in the funeral business. While I had known Gerald Levin, the merged company’s CEO, before taking the job, I didn’t know how he would react to coverage of himself and his company.
While Jerry had been trained as a lawyer and had never worked as a journalist, I had no reason to worry. Jerry was more committed to editorial independence than any executive I ever worked for, and in 12 years, I never had a serious complaint from him and he never tried to stop publication of a story.
Jerry realized there was no way that Time Inc.’s magazines could duck coverage of Time Warner and its different divisions. During the years I was editor in chief, Entertainment Weekly frequently skewered Warner Brothers movies and Warner Music CDs, and its coverage of one movie executive’s offensive sexual behavior at an Oscar party made top management wince, especially after EW called the errant exec’s studio, New Line, a “cross between Animal House and Caligula.”
In December 1999, three years after Time Warner merged with Turner Broadcasting System, owner of the Atlanta Braves, Sports Illustrated quoted pitcher John Rocker saying he didn’t want to play for a New York team because he might have to ride a subway “to the ballpark, looking like you’re [riding through] Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids.”
But it was Time’s and Fortune’s coverage of Time Warner’s ill-fated merger with AOL and of some of AOL’s more devious practices before, during, and after the merger that most tested Levin and that made me most proud of what we wrote.
In February 2000, shortly after the merger was announced, Fortune’s Carol Loomis concluded that trying to meet executives’ projections would be “like pushing a boulder up an alp.” Loomis went on to break the story of Levin’s ouster as CEO. Although I know Jerry thought the story unfair, I didn’t know it from him.
I was fortunate to work for executives who were committed to their publications’ editorial independence. Although, I don’t know how free most editors are to cover the companies they work for, I can only hope my experiences have been more the rule than the exception to it.
Category I: Winner- Dickson Hartwell, Publication- The Arizonian, Title- “The Business of Business: The Honest Automobile Dealer”
Category II: Winner- Leland Duvall, Publication- Arkansas Gazette, Title- “Debt Inflationary? May Be Opposite”
Category III: Winner- Sal Nuccio, Publication- New York Times, Title- “Series on personal finances”
Category IV: Winner- George Harris, Publication- Look, Title- “Automation”
Category I: No awards given
Category II: Winner- Billy Bowles, Publication: Charleston News & Courier, Title- “In-depth series on auto insurance problems in S.C.”
Category III: Winner- Eileen Shanahan, Publication: New York Times, Title- “Series on problems facing mutual-fund business”
Category IV: Winner- Marshall Loeb, Publication- Time, Title- “U.S. Business in 1965”
Category V: Winner- J. Richard Elliott, Publication- Barron’s, Title- “Series on the TFX fighter plane”
Category I: Winner- David L. Beal, Publication- Montclare-Leyden Herald, Title- “Series on bond bidding practices in Illinois”
Runner-up- Dickson Hartwell, Publication- The Arizonian, Title- “A Travesty on Research”
Category II: Winner- Jane Hall, Publication- Raleigh News & Observer, Title- “Series on N.C.’s growing furniture industry”
Runner-up- Larry Birger, Publication- Miami News, Title- “Series on Britain’s economic woes”
Category III: Winner- Richard Nenneman, Publication- Christian Science Monitor, Title- “Squeaks in the ‘New’ Economy”
Runner-up- J.A. Livingston, Publication- Philadelphia Bulletin, Title- “Series on gold and the dollar”
Category IV: Winner- Martin Mayer, Publication- Better Homes & Gardens, Title- “Understanding and Using Economics”
Runner-up- Richard Barber, Publication- New Republic, Title- “Big Government and Big Business”
Category V: Winner- John Prestbo, Publication- Wall Street Journal, Title- “Yardstick of Inflation”
Runner-up- Gilbert Burck, Publication- Fortune, Title not available
I: Winner- Robert Schwarz, Park Ridge Herald, “Our Local Tax Woe: What’s It All About?”
Runner-up- Maurice Labelle, Coral Gables Times, Title not available
II: Winner- Robert A. Foster, Worcster Telegram, “Our Merging Industries”
Runner-up- Dan Wyant, Register-Guard, Title not available
III: Winner- J.A. Livingston, Philadelphia Bulletin, “Series on Mutual Funds”
Runner-up- Paul M. Branzburg, Louisville Courier-Journal, Title not available
IV: Winner- John K. Jessup, Life, “How Golden Is the Dollar?”
Runner-up- John K. Galbraith, Atlantic, Title not available
V: Winner- Peter Weaver, Forbes, “Medicine: In Hot Water”
I: Winner- Arvo Haapa, Newport Harbor Ensign, “Impossible Law Must Be Changed”
Runner-up- Joe. R. Leonard, Pico Rivera Times-Post, “Series on tax assessments”
II: Winner- Harry Pearson, The Pine Bluff Commercial, “Series on taxation and equity”
Runner-up- Julius Apt, Courier-Post, “Series on banks”
III: Winner- Edward Kerstein, The Milwaukee Journal, “Series on fire insurance”
Runner-up- Royal H. Plenty, The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Boardroom Trouble”
IV: Winner- Thomas Nicholson, Newsweek, “Target: Negro Jobs”
Runner-up- Gurney Breckenfield, Time, “Tax Reform”
V: Winner- J. Richard Elliot, Jr., Barron’s, “Series on nursing home business”
I: Winner- Geoffrey Brown, Wes Iverson & Mick Rood, Sun Newspapers of Omaha, “Series on ailing bus company”
Runner-up- Pat Murphy, Coral Gables Times-Guide, “U.S. Unreasonable on Turkey Point”
II: Winner- Martin Kirby, Arkansas Democrat, “Series on removal of bank officers in Little Rock”
Runner-up- Joseph E. La Rocca, News Miner, “Historic Events Follow Oil Find”
III: Winner- Lucia Mouat, Christian Science Monitor, “Series on buyers-reform movement”
Runner-up- Richard Nnneman, Christian Science Monitor, “Series on the tax system”
IV: Winner- Ronnie Dugger, Atlantic, “Oil and Politics”
Runner-up- August Gribbin, Michael Malloy, Patrick Young, Edwin A. Roberts, Jr., National Observer, “”Series on oil marketing”
V: Winner- Theodore B. Merrill, Jr., Business Week, “Why You Hear a Busy Signal At AT&T”
Runner-up- John Lyons, Institutional Investor, “Earnings: Can Anyone Believe the Numbers?”
I: Winner- Ted Harp, San Bernardino Sun-Telegram, “Articles on defaulted loan to a Catholic hospital”
Runner-up- Chester Davis, Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel, Title not available
II: Winner- David C. Smith, Detroit Free Press, “The ‘Bad Boy’ of Michigan Banking 6 Yrs & an Empire Later”
Runner-up- Robert J. Cole, New York Times, Title not available
III: Winner- Ralph Lee Smith, The Nation, “The Wired Nation”
Runner-up- Peter White, National Geographic, Title not available
IV: Winner- Herbert Popper & Roy V. Hughson, Chemical Engineering, “How Would You Apply Engineering Ethics to Environmental Problems?”
Runner-up- William B. Henzey, Airline Management, Title not available
I: Winner- Randy Brown, Wes Iverson, Mick Rood, Doug Smith & Paul Willaims, Sun Newspapers of Omaha, “What Ever Happened to Father Flanagan’s Dream?”
Runner-up- Jerry Drake, Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, “Ford Recall: ‘The Cheap Way Out’”
II: Winner- Gene Owens, Norfolk Ledger-Star, “Series on local nuclear plant”
Runner-up- Edson Whipple, Tom Dawson, Lucinda Simon & Larry Perrault, Toledo Blade, “Series on employment agenices
III: Winner- John Campbell, Business Week, “Making U.S. Technology More Competitive”
Runner-up- Robert Mims, Business Week, “Accounting: A Crisis Over Fuller Disclosure”
IV: Winner- Chris Welles, Institutional Investor, “The Little Man Returns, Or So It Seems”
Runner-up- Myron Kandel, Institutional Investor, “William Casey’s First 200 Days”
I: Winner- Daniel J. Foley, Lee Newspapers of Montana, “Series on corporate power structure of Montana”
Runner-up- Thomas G. Hartley, The Sunday Telegram, “Anatomy of Failure”
II: Winner- George Eberl, Ed Reavis, Jim Cole, Regis Bossu, Bob Wicker, Peter Jaeger & Ken Loomis, Stars & Stripes, “Buying U.S. Land Overseas”
Runner-up- Al F. Ehrbar & Steve Petranek, Democrat & Chronicle, “Series on Stirling-Homex failture”
III: Winner- David Pauly, Sandra Salman & Rona Cherry, Newsweek, “The High Cost of Eating”
Runner-up- Celia Currin & James Flanagan, Forbes, “Can Agriculture Save the Dollar?”
IV: Winner- Nancy Belliveau, Fred Bleakley, James C. Crimmins, John DeMott, Solveig Jansson, Lana Math & Harvey Shapiro, Institutional Investor, “Can our nonprofit institutions be saved?”
Runner-up- Barbara Patocka, Pensions, “The Herculean Task Is Under Way”
I: Winner- Roger Clawson & Gary Svee, The Billings Gazette, “King Coal Arises”
Runner-up- Larry Birger, Miami News, “Series on financial condition of Wall Street”
II: Winner- Donald L. Barlett & James B. Steele, Philadelphia Inquirer, “Series on the oil crisis”
Runner-up- David L. Good, The Detroit News, “Series on ‘cash collectibles’”
III: Winner- Frank Lalli, Forbes, “Inflation: You Are Losing Your Assets”
Runner-up- Gordon L. Williams & team, Business Week, “The New Banking”
IV: No awards given
I: Winner- Tom D. Miller, Huntington Herald- Advertiser, “Series on ownership of land and mineral rights in W. VA.”
Runner-up- Jerry Drake, Naples Star, “FPL Cuts Budget—Oil, Other Costs Soar”
II: Winner- Stephen Aug, Washington Star, “U.S. Agencies Under Fire
Runner-up- Joel Whitaker, Philadelphia Sunday Bulletin, “Insurance Firms’ Solvency Imperiled”
III: Winner- Stephen B. Shepard, Business Week, “Donald Cook Takes on the Environmentalists”
Runner-up- John Cobbs & team, Business Week, “The 1970s: A Second Look”
IV: Winner- Chris Welles, Institutional Investor, “The Battle for the Petrodollar”
I: Winner- Ron Blankenbaker, Andrew Leckey, Allen Morrison & Wilma Bonsanti, The Oregon Statesman, “Series on public utility rates”
Runner-up- Brent Harker, Robert Mullins & Dale VanAtta, The Desert News, “Series on insurance companies”
II: Winner- Donald Barlett & James B. Steele, Philadelphia Inquirer, “Series on Howard Hughes”
Runner-up- Steve Weinberg, Des Moines Register, “Iowa’s Motto on Mergers: Investor Beware”
III: Winner- James Fallows, Texas Monthly, “The Great Airline War”
Runner-up- Daniel Yergin, Atlantic Monthly, “The One-Man Flying Multinational”
IV: Winner- Robert McLaughlin, New Engineer, “Consumer Safety and the Botched Trouble Light Recall”
Runner-up- Mac Overmyer, Upcountry, “Corporate Flight to the Country”
I: Winner- Barbara Arrigo, The Times Herald, “Series on Michigan’s economy”
Runner-up- Cecil Williams, The Town Talk, “Series on the ‘Age of Coal’”
II: Winner- Susan Trausch & Laurence Collins, Boston Globe, “Series on commodity options”
Runner-up- Lee D. Mitgang, Associated Press, “Series on U.S. pensions”
III: Winner- Anthony J. Parisi, Business Week, “Will Energy Conservation Throttle Economic Growth?”
Runner-up- George J. Church, Time, “Merchants of Debt”
IV: Winner- Chris Welles, Institutional Investor, “Discounting: Wall Street’s Game of Nerves”
Runner-up- John R. Halbrooks, Purchasing Magazine, “Series on business bribery”
I: Winner- Polly Ross Hughes & Bill Coats, Anderson Independent & Daily Mail, “Series on Duke Power Company”
Runner-up- Larry Birger, The Miami News, “Series on Miami business”
II: Winner- Richard C. Longworth & Bill Niekirk, The Chicago Tribune, “Series on world trade”
Runner-up- Bill Voelker, The Times-Picayune, “Series on over-purchasing & under-utilization of computers”
III: Winner- Gordon Williams, William Wolman & team, Business Week, “The Great Government Inflation Machine”
Runner-up- Mike Mallowe, Philadelphia Magazine, “Going for Broke”
IV: Winner- Brian Ketcham & Stan Pinkwas, New Engineer Magazine, “Diesels and Man”
Runner-up- Ann Pelham, Congressional Quarterly, Inc., “Government Tackles Tricky Question of How to Regulate Carcinogens”
I: Winner- William Dougherty, Alaska Advocate, “Mr. Tashiro Goes to Kodiak”
Runner-up- Elliot G. Jaspin & Gilbert Gaul, Pottsville Republican, “Series on coal industry”
II: Winner- Stuart Diamond, Newsday, “Series: ‘Garbage—Our Wasted Resource”
Runner-up- Nancy Webman, Michael Millenson & team, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “Series on inflation”
III: Winner- Peter Meyer, Harper’s, “Land Rush: A Survey of America’s Land”
Runner-up- Merrill Sheils, Bill Cook & team, Newsweek, “The Coming Oil Crunch”
IV: Winner- Chris Welles, Institutional Investor, “The Tragedy of Don Weeden”
Runner-up- John A. Byrne, Daily News Record (Fairchild), “Series on Brown lung disease”
I: Winner- Stephen Rassenfoss, The Clarion-Ledger, “Fidelity Bank: Anatomy of a Failure”
Runner-up- Alan Guggenheim & team, The Oregon Statesman, “Series on financial dilemma in Marion County”
II: Winner- R.C. Longworth & William Niekirk, The Chicago Tribune, “The Changing American Worker”
Runner-up- Philip Moeller, The Courier-Journal, “What Happened to the Louisville & Nashville Railroad?”
III: Winner- Richard Barnet, The New Yorker, “The World’s Resources”
Runner-up- Carol J. Loomis, Fortune, “How ITT Got Lost in a Big, Bad Forest”
IV: Winner- Larry Gurwin, Phyllis Finesberg & Harvey Shapiro, Institutional Investor, “The Takeover Crisis”
Runner-up- Anise Wallace, John Dizard, Neil Osborn, David Cudaback & Laurie Meisler, Institutional Investor, “The Interest Rate Trauma”
I: Winner- Ann Baldelli & Stan Decoster, The Day (New London), “Cable TV: Channels of Influence”
Runner-up- George Bernstein, Poughkeepsie Journal, “Requiem for Schatz”
II: Winner- Donald L. Barlett & James B. Steele, The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Energy Anarchy”
Runner-up- Merle Linda Wolin, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, “Sweatshop: Undercover in the Garment Industry”
III: Winner- William Wolman & team, Business Week, “The Reindustrialization of America”
Runner-up- Thomas N. Bethell & Greg Easterbrook, The Washington Monthly, “The Energy Crisis”
IV: Winner- Erik Calonius, Florida Trend, “The Florida Economy Eighty-One”
Runner-up- John Schneidawind, California Business, “The Battle for the Pump”
I: Winner- Maria Halkias, David Frank & W. Stevens Ricks, The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, MS, “Little Boxes, Broken Dreams”
Runner-up- Paul H. Carlsen, The Journal-News, Nyack, NY, “Utility Seeks New Sources for Cheap Power”
II: Winner- Stuart Diamond, Newsday, “Shoreham: What Went Wrong”
Runner-up- Charles Madigan, Richard Orr & James Worsham, The Chicago Tribune, “We’re Planting Debt…Not Crops”
III: Winner- Charles Burck, Jeremy Main & Robert Lubar, FORTUNE Magazine, “Working Smarter”
Runner-up- John Brooks, The New Yorker, “Annals of Finance”
IV: Winner- Neil Osborn, Institutional Investor, “What Happens After Glass-Steagall?”
Runner-up- Diane Gropper, Institutional Investor, “Pensions: The Perils of Raising Assumed Rates of Return”
I: Winner- Lori Olszewski & Timothy G. Bannon, The Times, Hammond, Ind., “Health: Can We Afford It?”
Runner-up- John T. Gallagher, The Post-Standard, Syracuse, NY, “Dialing for Dollars: New York Tel’s $1 Billion Rate Case”
II: Winner- Peyton Whitely, Seattle Times, “WPPSS 2”
Runner-up- Polly Ross Hughes & Barbara Johnson, The Dallas Morning News, “Texas Oil Era Fading”
III: Winner- Gene Bylinsky, Fortune, “The Race to the Automatic Factory”
Runner-up- Harry Anderson & team, Newsweek, “Jobs: Putting America Back to Work”
IV: Winner- Joseph Nocera, Texas Monthly, “It’s Time to Make a Deal”
Runner-up- Chris Welles, Institutional Investor, “Drysdale: What Really Happened”
“Amid Telecom Ruins, a Fortune is Buried” by Jeffrey Kosseff, The Oregonian, Dec. 8, 2002.
The article was included in “Best Business Stories 2004.”
Oregon experienced one of the most extravagant building booms in its history during the late ’90s. But today the state has little to show for about $1 billion invested in what was billed at the time as essential infrastructure.
The money is buried — most of it along the Interstate 5 corridor — in the form of more than 140,000 miles of fiber-optic cable. At most, 5 percent of the fiber is being used.
Forget dot-coms. The truly excessive overinvestment of the technology boom was in the Internet’s pipeline, the hair-thin strands of glass that snake across the state and nation, carrying pulses of light that translate into huge volumes of e-mail messages, Web pages and online video.
To view the full article, go to
“Rich Man, Poor Company” by Chris O’Brien and Jack Davis of San Jose Mercury News.
The story was included in “Best Business Stories of the Year: 2004 edition”