Andrew Ross Sorkin is The New York Times’s chief mergers and acquisitions reporter and a columnist. He is also the author of the 2009 book, "Too Big To Fail." Mr. Sorkin, a leading voice about Wall Street and corporate America, is also the editor of DealBook, an online daily financial report he started in 2001. In addition, Mr. Sorkin is an assistant editor of business and finance news, helping guide and shape the paper’s coverage.Mr. Sorkin, who has appeared on NBC's “Today” show and on “Charlie Rose” on PBS, is a frequent guest host of CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” He won a Gerald Loeb Award, the highest honor in business journalism, in 2004 for breaking news. He also won a Society of American Business Editors and Writers Award for breaking news in 2005 and again in 2006. In 2007, the World Economic Forum named him a Young Global Leader. Mr. Sorkin began writing for The Times in 1995 under unusual circumstances: he hadn’t yet graduated from high school. Mr. Sorkin lives in Manhattan.
Question: What is DealBook?
Andrew Ross Sorkin: Deal Book is sort of an interesting creation because I, after graduating from college, I'd gone to Cornell. I got sent back to London. I'd spent some time in London. But the Times sent me to London to cover MNA and it's really the wild, wild, west out there. Not impossible to get stories. It's a gossipy town.
But I moved back to New York and this is now in 2000 and I was going around trying to meet different people in the business. I ingratiated myself with sources and really tried to build enough of a network so that I could actually get stories. And one of the things I realized quite sadly, was that on Wall Street, within the finance community, I didn’t feel like they were reading my stuff. So they didn’t even know how competitive I could be. I thought being in Europe, when I was living in London it was tough. But being in New York, you know, the Wall Street Journal really was the entrenched player and I was thinking to myself, how am I going to get in front of these people, because it is a vicious circle.
If you can get them to read your stuff, then they might be willing to take your call, et cetera, et cetera. And so I thought, well maybe if I can get somehow inside their email box in the morning, you know, forget about the New York Times, maybe I could just circumvent that whole problem and get in their email box. And that's sort of how Deal Book started. The idea was to send them effectively, my stories and then say listen, we're going to send you what I'm writing but also going to send you 5, 10 in this case now 20, 30 other stories that you might not have seen. And back then this was sort of pre-- people didn’t talk about blogging. The idea inside the New York Times that you're actually going to link to an outside news organization to send people to the wallstreetjournal.com or to the ft.com, you know, was crazy.
And the idea was to not just find stories in those papers that were interesting for people-- and part of it was, sort of let's create a one-stop shop. But the other part of it was, let's find stories that you might not even be reading at all. So you know, when Alcatel was trying to merge with Lucent, you know, we wanted stuff from the Star Ledger in Jersey that you were going to miss or if there was an airline deal, you wanted to know what was going on the Dallas Morning News or if there was something going with Coca Cola, you wanted to know what's going in the Atlantic Constitution or frankly when-- actually when the Alcatel/Lucent thing was going on, we were doing translated versions of stuff that was in La Mont, in Paris. And so the idea was, to put all of this stuff in one place so that you could quickly see it in the morning. And it became sort of your must read. And that's sort of how it originally developed.
Question: What is the challenge to DealBook when small papers shut down?
Andrew Ross Sorkin: I mean one of the problems right, is that all of these local papers that we've depended on as a source, as a resource for Deal Book that has actually made Deal Book the one-stop shop on some level, have become diminished. But at the same time you have sort of the emergence of the blogger sphere and of other news sources that have developed. I mean, when we started, this thing called The Daily Deal had just begun.
And so there's lots of now, financial either blogs, but financial news services and others that we partnered with or created relationships with where we can link to them. So, you know, there's part of me that's very saddened by what's taking place, kind of on the regional, local scale in terms of the media. But at the same time, the number and quality frankly, of the type of stories you can get across the internet now, also video and everything else that's happening, has I think, more than made up at least for what we're trying to do, in that context.
Question: What do you read to get your information for DealBook?
Andrew Ross Sorkin: Well if you read Deal Book you read everything that I read actually. We go through now, 100 plus, sometimes 200 plus newspapers, news sources, news outlets every single morning. And frankly, I do almost everything now digitally. So the idea of actually picking up a paper beyond the New York Times or beyond-- I do pick up the other papers typically just to see how they're laid out and what they look like. But you know, we're working overnight and usually before I even go to sleep, I've read through most of what's going to be in the next day's papers, both my own and everybody else's. So the hit list is probably obvious. I go to Bloomberg I go to the FT, I go to the Journal, I go to the Daily Deal I go to breakingviews.com if you know about that. There's a handful of great blogs out there that I go to. But nothing in particular, because one of the things I think we found sort of through the creation of Deal Book is, that you know, no matter how much you think one news source is important, in reality, in this new kind of very fragmented news world, to get the full picture, you really have to go to hundreds frankly. And that's sort of what we're trying to do on a daily basis.
Recorded on: June 3, 2008
It's what Andrew Ross Sorkin created.
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