Welcome to our SPOTLIGHT feature, where we highlight a journalist and ProfNet user to share their personal story and insight with you. This SPOTLIGHT belongs to Joyce Rosenberg, small-business reporter at the Associated Press.
We hope you find SPOTLIGHT both enjoyable and informative. Please feel free to leave a comment after the blog entry.
When and why did you decide to become a journalist?
I was always interested in and surrounded by news; I was the child of parents who spent World War II listening to the wireless and who, as I was growing up, always had the radio on and newspapers delivered. But it wasn’t until I worked on my college newspaper that I saw myself going into journalism.
How did you arrive at covering business news?
It was a confluence of factors: I was already an investor and therefore interested in the topic. Some of my favorite classes in law school were about corporations and securities regulation. And I knew that it was an area of coverage that would always be in demand.
Do you remember your first job as a journalist?
I was a desk assistant at WINS, one of the all-news radio stations in New York. I learned all about the need to get the news out now, and to get it right. I learned about the AP and UPI. I discovered that I loved being in journalism.
Do you have a most memorable moment in your career so far?
Writing the bulletin on Sept. 17, 2001 when the stock market opened for the first time after the attacks on the World Trade Center. The market was plunging and we couldn’t know then how far it would drop. Or when we might have another attack.
Is there a "best" part to being a journalist in your genre?
I enjoy talking with small-business owners. They are of course a very varied group of people, but I enjoy their candor and pragmatism, and I respect them for their courage and optimism. They risk a lot to have their own businesses, and the responsibility they take on is enormous.
What suggestions do you have for public relations professionals or anyone who wants to pitch you a story?
Take yourself out of your job as a publicist, and consider what the reporter or editor you’re pitching to may want or need. Read some stories published or broadcast by the news organization you’re pitching to. Then tailor your pitch to try to fit that journalist. If you call a reporter and start talking without listening, there’s a good chance you’re going to be wasting your time. If you answer a query with an e-mail describing the awards your client has won rather than saying how your client fits what a reporter needs, your e-mail will be quickly deleted.
What should they never do and always do?
Don’t argue with someone who says no. Reporters and editors know what their bosses are looking for in a story. If you argue, you’re wasting your time and costing yourself goodwill.
Don’t pitch a company that doesn’t fit a reporter’s request or query and hope that you’ll get the reporter to write something different. Example: If a reporter is asking for help in finding a company that has had trouble getting a loan, don’t pitch a financial adviser who can give tips about getting loans.
Always ask, is this a good time? Even if it’s not, the question shows that you know how to work with a reporter or editor. They may even stop what they’re doing and talk with you then, simply because you’ve created some instant goodwill by being sensitive and savvy about their pressures.
How should someone in public relations try to develop a relationship with you?
Read my previous two answers. That can go a long way.
Do you use social media as part of your job?
Yes. They’re a good resource for learning about trends and they help in finding sources.
How do you use ProfNet and how has it helped you?
It has helped me find small-businesses that have had experience with an issue I’m writing about.
What's your advice for someone beginning their career in journalism?
It’s actually the advice I’d give anyone going into any profession, given the changes in the economy and the world over the past two decades. Learn everything you can about a field before you make a choice on a career in it. Be prepared for dramatic change -- even a change in your career.
How has the industry changed from when you started?
I’m going to talk about business news. In the 1980s, it was just a small part of the journalistic consciousness. Over the years, news managers have come to understand that business and the economy are an integral part of life. Economic reports aren’t just a fixture for financial news nerds. Earnings reports aren’t just something for an investor. Writing about business and the economy has become more than spilling out numbers -- we know we have to explain to readers and viewers what the information means and why it matters to them.
How do you see the news industry in 5 years? 10 years?
I think we all see a painful evolution continuing. We would all feel more secure if we had a sense of what the public’s appetite for news will be -- and where they want to get their news.
What would you be doing if you weren't a journalist?
I’d be a rabbi, literature professor, nurse practitioner or veterinarian. I’d also be spending more time in London and Paris.
What do you like to do when you're not at AP headquarters?
I have a second career as a psychoanalyst. I also read, write psychoanalytic papers, swim, cook, listen to music, go to museums and to the theater when I can.
About Joyce Rosenberg
Joyce Rosenberg is the AP's small-business reporter. She began covering the topic full-time this year after writing Small Talk, the news cooperative's column on small-business, for nearly 13 years. She has also served as the AP's financial markets editor and held other supervisory and management roles in the Business News Department. She has also covered retailing and mergers.
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