Weekend Reading: “A Journalist’s Guide to Reading Financial Statements”

Nothing strikes more fear in my being than numbers. Especially big ones that need to be multiplied and divided and turned into percentages (see? That probably doesn’t even really make sense). I take a Socratic approach to my mathematical ignorance: I admit I know nothing. it can’t be just me either — which is why NPR has so much success with it’s “Planet Money” podcast, and journalists like Matt Yglesias and Felix Salmon have so many Twitter followers. They get it and they know how to explain it, without dumbing it down.

It’s important to know what they’re talking about — which is why I’ll never forget the seventh circle of hell  my required “Media Economics” class in graduate school, where we were taught how to read financial statements, read finance minded books, and eventually create our own start-up and pretend we were pitching to VCs.

With that in mind, I share this white paper with you, released by Sageworks this week. It’s a very useful overview of how to read financial statements as a reporter, and uses Twitter’s IPO for examples. It’s not just for tech reporters, either. Journalists should know how to read the numbers, examine trends, and call bullshit — or at least be able to project what companies are up to according to the numbers.

You can download the paper here, for free. If audio is more your thing, there’s an hour long tutorial and video you can listen to here while you prepare your turkey brine this weekend.

Do you have any other good resources for journalists? Share them in the comments or tweet @10,000Words with your weekend reading.