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Analyst Or Reporter: It’s All About Reliable Data

Whether you’re a journalist or a brokerage analyst, you’re only as good as your sources. And sources are only as good as their data.

It pays to have experience and knowledge of the topics you’re covering and some history with sources because those allow you to BS detect statements and to know who has the best track record of good, solid data.

Not having the knowledge and experience with sources is where Citi stumbled in their “grape shortage” assertions (No Winegrape Shortage: Citi Report Sloppy, Based On Bad Data).

The BusinessInsider.Com fell flat by relying on Citi who relied on lousy data (Fearmongering In The Vineyard).

Having covered this industry since 1991 and been a wine importer/wholesaler prior to that offers some perspective about the industry — whose data is reliable and whose is deliberately biased to further their own business interests.

Sadly, as others have pointed out, news organizations have cut way back on reporters because people are unwilling to pay for news. Some of the most experienced reporters in every field — those with the experience and knowledge — are the first to go because they’re the highest paid. Business decisions (and the nation) suffer for that.

GRAPE GLUT OF 2001 CAUSED BY BAD DATA, CROOKED SOURCES

The near-criminal spinning of reports by brokerage analysts in the mid to late 1990s left a lot of retail investors broke and California drowning in a tsunami of wine.

Much of this was caused by gullible or complicit analysts. These brokerage folks uncritically regurgitated self-interested information in their reports and facilitated a lot of public wine company insiders and investors to pump and dump their stocks, enriching themselves to the detriment of investors and the state’s wine grape growers.

And that continues.

GOOD MEMORY FOR BAD ACTORS

Yep, I remember all the names. No need to specify them all here.

But you can recognize those by the people by their words and the company they keep.

They’re the ones who — back in 1996 when I owned Wine Business Monthly and warned about the coming glut — said: “There is no glut. There will never be a glut.”

They said it loudly, self-righteously … thumping on barrel heads like old-fashioned, Bible-banging preachers. Keeping a straight face during those apoplectic tirades was the hard part, I imagine.

Those same people — a lot of whom are still trying to work their dark arts in the industry — were quick to demonize me for telling the facts in my book, The Wrath of Grapes.

And they ginned up powerful PR flackery to blast Barron’s Weekly for their front-page articles — based on my book — for exposing the glut.

RELIABLE SOURCES WITH A TRACK RECORD

And that leads me back to reliable sources.

I have watched Allied Grape Growers and their data for 22 years now — starting back when Barry Bedwell had the tough job that Nat DiBuduo now holds. And for 22 years, I have seen AGG’s data hold water. Silicon Valley Bank is pretty damn good as are the Rabobank’s NY analysts.

Sadly, there are those still within the industry whose greed mandates that they whisper partial truths to brokerage analysts and reporters who are naive or lazy and who would repeated these half-truths.

Reader beware.