We recently faced a little editorial conundrum here over GM ... not the type of call you'd have to make at a TV news broadcaster or newspaper. But as a result we're changing how we ticker GM stories.
First element, GM's unusual bankruptcy ...
As you'll recall, the pre-packaged arrangement calls for the creation of two GMs -- the good one and the bad one. The Good GM is owned by the US and Canadian governments and the company's major union. The Good GM is expected to go public next year but until then, you can consider it privately held and off the public trading market.
Then there's the Bad GM (some folks would prefer to call it the Old GM. Whatever). It is made up of the iffy assets and junk that management didn't want clogging up the Good GM. But it continues to trade as a penny stock under the ticker symbol MTLQQ.
Second element, the Internet and the Ticker ...
Now ticker symbols are vital DNA for business news on the Internet. They determine categorization and distribution. Did you come to our site by following a story link from Yahoo or AOL quote page? A fair number of you do. It's the ticker symbol that gets those story links on those quote pages.
Since we all want more readers, religiously sticking stock tickers into stories has become
standard industry practice. (Some business news outlets try to game that system from time to time by putting a lot of unrelated or tangentially related tickers into their stories, in fact).
So when General Motors went into the first stage of its bankruptcy saga, we started sticking its new bankrupt-ticker, GMGMQ, into stories. And then when the car maker's bankruptcy deal went through and it split into two GMs, along came MTLQQ and that went into GM stories too.
A number of readers protested ... especially when that ticker made it into our stories about the Volt. An example ...
I have to cringe every time I see references to General Motors and the site puts up the link to MTLQQ stock data... Is this not misleading people into thinking that whatever news you're attributing to GM will be reflected in the MTLQQ stock? -- Ed
First of all, misfires on tickers happen. Marginally related news and unrelated news appear in the "Related News" section of quote pages often. Just ask Helmerich and Payne (HP) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ). Separating wheat from chaff, fact from fiction, relevant from ephemeral is part of that due diligence and research stuff investors get lectured about all the time.
Also, if you are dabbling in penny stock MTLQQ, wouldn't you be interested in news about its Good GM alter ego as well?
On the other hand this bunch of readers may have a valid point. Sure, they were the same company once ... but now the two GMs are distinct and separate highways.
So we're not going to put MTLQQ into GM stories for the time being (at least we're going to try not to ... goofs happen). Meanwhile, as always, we're interested in what readers have to say ... if you have two cents, file it in the comments area below.