One of the key questions in the DealBook vs Dealbreaker debate
is whether the New York Times will link to bloggy rumours or not. If Elizabeth
Spiers wants link love from the NYT, my general feeling was that she would have
to bring her A game. But then as soon as I wrote that, DealBook linked
to random nonsense. And now, reading the NYT’s own intraday coverage of
the AT&T/BellSouth merger, the more I feel that the bar for Spiers is actually
The headline on the NYT
story is "Wall St. Cheers Huge Phone Deal; Others Seem Likely".
Business reporter Vikas Bajaj doesn’t hedge his lead: "AT&T’s proposed
$67 billion purchase of BellSouth was received warmly by Wall Street today,"
What do words like "cheers" and "received warmly" mean
in your book? Evidently in the world of the NYT, they are broad enough to cover
a world where Wall Street marked down the value of AT&T by 1.4%, wiping
about $1.5 billion from the company’s market capitalisation. Yes, BellSouth
shares rose, but that’s a simple arbitrage play, not a cheer or warm reception.
AT&T is offering a certain amount for BellSouth’s shares, so those shares
rose to more or less what AT&T is going to pay for them.
It’s perfectly normal, of course, when a big acquisition is announced, for
the stock of the acquirer to fall. What’s weird is when that reaction is then
spun as a Wall Street cheer. I’m sure that Dealbreaker can do better, if it
ever gets around to caring about intraday stock movements.
Oh, and one other thing: "The shares of potential telecommunications acquisitions
like Qwest and Alltel were up about 4 percent each, and shares of the would-be
acquirers Verizon and Comcast fell early in the day but appeared to
recover most of their losses by midday." Huh? Is Mr Bajaj unsure that the
prices he sees on his screen are the actual prices of the stocks in question?
What is the difference between a stock recovering most of its losses, and a
stock appearing to recover most of its losses? Maybe Dealbreaker will
(Previously: The NYT buggers
up a Murdoch story. Come on, BizDay, you can do better!)
UPDATE: The article has now been updated with closing prices. Wall Street is still cheering in the headline, and is still receiving the deal warmly in the lede, despite the fact that AT&T closed down 3.5%, corresponding to a loss in value of almost $3.7 billion.