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« Taking Oaths | Main | Radio Books »

Writing For Business

There's a reason Jim Cramer and Robert Krulwich are popular. Jim Cramer may be a maniac, a Wizard of Ahhs with nothing behind the curtain, but he's entertaining. Robert Krulwich was merely the Stan Freberg of business radio journalism. I remember him doing a bit on just-in-time manufacturing back in the early 80s which incorporated both the song and what NPR producers pride themselves on - "environmental sound" - into a brilliant 5-minute exposition. Any b-school prof I had would have killed for the kind of attention you paid to that piece. (The environmental sound was fake. At one point, an assembly-line worker interrupts the song to shout, "Hey, Frank! The radios are here!")

So why do we write coverage reports and updates as though the people reading them are robots? Are we afraid that they won't take us seriously otherwise? Ironic that the current euphemism for "explanation" is "color," and then we proceed to drain every last bit of it out of our writing.

My guess is that these guys read the bullet points, maybe skim through the numbers, and then go on to the next report that reads like shoe leather left over from last year's tourist season at Moab. Spice it up a little, get them to expect that they might get a smile out of it, and they're more likely to stick around long enough to appreciate your insights.

Naturally, you have to make it clear enough that the humor-impaired fellas don't miss the point you're trying to make. The second-to-last thing you want is someone scratching his head mumbling to himself, "no, I don't see why newspapers any anything like clay tablets..."

The last thing you want is a page 1 WSJ article about how your entire research staff needs to be packed off to Khe Sanh for sensitivity re-education. So avoid the racial, ethnic, sexist, political, and religious jokes, since pretty much everyone's a member of the investor class nowadays - that stuff isn't just in poor taste, it's bad for business.

Still, this leaves lots of room for personality, and lots of room to get your subscribers to grin rather than groan when they see your updates in their inboxes.


Power, Faith, and Fantasy

Six Days of War

An Army of Davids

Learning to Read Midrash

Size Matters

Deals From Hell

A War Like No Other


A Civil War

Supreme Command

The (Mis)Behavior of Markets

The Wisdom of Crowds

Inventing Money

When Genius Failed

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Back in Action : An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith and Fortitude

How Would You Move Mt. Fuji?

Good to Great

Built to Last

Financial Fine Print

The Day the Universe Changed


The Multiple Identities of the Middle-East

The Case for Democracy

A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam

The Italians

Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory

Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures

Reading Levinas/Reading Talmud