OLD Media Moves

Sloan "flattered" at being named biz journalist of the decade

January 2, 2010


Fortune senior editor at large Allan Sloan said Friday that he was “flattered” at being named the Talking Biz News business journalist of the decade and provided some perspective on his favorite writings of the past decade and other reasons for his success.

“Two of my favorite columns … are from Newsweek, and are aimed at general audiences even more than usual. It’s my Feb. 11, 2002 column about Enron and my bar mitzvah, and my July 11, 2005 piece about the Supreme Court’s Ten Commandments decision in which I combined journalism and numbers and my years of religious training.

“The two best long pieces I’ve done in a long time are my Fortune covers: ‘House of Junk,’ Oct. 29, 2007, dissecting how one issue of mortgage backed securities works, which got a ton of buzz and pickup and won the Loeb Award; and ‘The Biggest Bailout Yet,’ Aug. 17, 2009, which explains Social Security’s real problems by using a real-life example, consisting of my wife and me.

“In both, instead of writing a conventional big picture piece with a few obligatory anecdotes, I explained one situation in depth, and went from the particular to the general. That’s much easier for people to read and to relate to. And that’s why I like them more than I like some of the big-picture pieces I wrote for Newsweek before I had figured out that particular-to-general is often a better read than general-to-particular.

“I try to stand against the conventional wisdom. That’s why in mid-2007 I was calling for taxpayers to get a piece of the banks’ benefits from the bailout of the financial system, before most people even realized a bailout was underway; and why I wrote last spring, when the uproar against Wall Street and AIG bonuses was getting out of hand, that all bonuses aren’t the same, and that not everyone making $250,000 a year is ‘rich,’ as the Obama administration and its allies contend.

“The reasons I’ve been successful are that I’ve had a lot of support at home from Nancy, especially when our kids (now grown) were young, which let me concentrate on working; I’ve generally gotten good editing, both at the idea stage and with the copy itself; that I remember to write for the audience, not for my sources or for myself; and I spend a lot of time and effort making sure that a story has a clear point and is written cleanly enough for non-experts to be able to read it, and has enough insight for experts to possibly learn something.”

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