A guy by the name of Tom Contiliano is on the UNC campus today. Tom is a forensic accountant by training who works at Bloomberg News helping the journalists there understand what’s going on with the financial statements of the companies that they’re writing about.
This will never happen in newspapers, but maybe it should. If the business media is going to do a better job of catching the next Enron or WorldCom, then shouldn’t it be hiring people like Tom to work in its newsrooms? Most journalists don’t understand financial accounting, and even those who think that they do probably don’t know it as well as an accountant.
Tom is smart enough to understand how both worlds intersect. And because he’s got a nice, easy-going personality, he gets along well with the reporters and explains things to them in a way that they can understand.
Tom is training my students on how to use the Bloomberg terminal, another useful skill that most newspapers seem to ignore when it comes to their business staffs.