Chris Roush at the Talking Biz News blog points out that within an hour of the release of Berkshire Hathaway's annual report, Fortune Magazine was reporting the content of the report. What's more, Fortune sent out an email touting three different stories about Warren Buffett.
So how did Fortune accomplish this bit of speedy journalism? Well it turns out that Fortune editor at large Carol Loomis has a "close relationship" with Buffett. They're buddies. And Loomis does all sorts of things friends do for friends. You know, like visiting when the Omaha winter gets a little dull. Or hanging around eating cheeseburgers. Or playing cards. Or editing Berkshire Hathaway's annual report.
As Roush explains:
I bring all of this background up, as well as the e-mail, to point out that Loomis, who received the lifetime achievement award last year from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, is writing about information disclosed in an annual report that she edited. Carmine Tiso, senior manager of communications for Fortune, told me in an e-mail, “Yes, Carol did edit the annual report, as she has mentioned in some of her previous stories on Warren Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway in FORTUNE.”
However, this point — that Loomis edited the annual report that she’s writing about — is not mentioned in any of the current stories.
I’ve heard from at least one prize-winning business journalist this afternoon who can’t understand why a business publication allows one of its writers to cover a story in which they played a part. This journalist, who was at the SABEW annual meeting last year when Loomis received her award, said that such a conflict of interest would be grounds for dismissal at any other newsroom.
Yeah. But it's totally different. Because it's Saint Warren. He bought his way to Heaven. Helping him can't be wrong.
Raising the Buffett/Loomis question again [Talking Biz News]
Update: If you want it, here's Warren Buffett's letter to shareholders.