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Keeping Houston covered

Southwestern Energy

Southwestern Energy

Laura Goldberg, Houston Chronicle

5 Questions with Laura Goldberg, business editor of the Houston Chronicle.

Goldberg talks about her target audience, the challenges of keeping up with technology and key topics her reporters are covering.

1. When you became business editor, did anything surprise you about the job?

There weren’t many big surprises. If anything, just the volume of e-mail pitches I get every day – most of which have nothing to do with Houston or business trends in Houston.

2. What are some unique traits of covering the Houston business scene? Are there sacred cows? Hot coverage areas?

No sacred cows here. Given the size of the energy-related workforce in Houston, we devote a lot of coverage to the industry. We have a team of three energy writers in Houston and our business writer in (Washington) DC spends a lot of his time on energy policy. We’re covering the nation’s housing woes different from a lot of other markets. While we are seeing a big increase in foreclosures, we haven’t seen the scope of troubles other areas have. We also do a fair bit on Latin American trade.

3. What types of business stories seem to resonate with your readers?

  • Energy stories, including industry news, trends and consumer stories.
  • Real estate stories that look at the housing market and those that highlight building sales and new development.
  • Consumer stories, including those related to cable and internet companies and the health industry.
  • Legal news related to Enron, including the government’s ongoing fight to seize Linda Lay’s assets and Jeff Skilling’s appeal.

4. What role does the Web play?

We’re writing for the Web all day. Reporters file stories as news happens and add updates during the day. We’re also doing blogs. The live blog we did of the Lay-Skilling trial was popular with readers. A couple of our business reporters shoot video themselves. Other times, we work with staff videographers or photographers to get video. I have one assistant editor who spends a big chunk of his time on Web business news, posting stories and making sure we’re thinking of how to present items on the Web.

5. What advice do you have for other business editors? Any tips on motivating staff?

This sounds pretty obvious: Keep thinking of new ways to connect with and engage readers online and in print. We’re writing for the Web first, but we still have thousands and thousands of readers – and advertisers who follow them – paying for our print product. I try to motivate my staff by pushing them to break news, come up with great enterprise and write excellent headlines. And when they do, I let them know they’ve done a good job.

Follow Laura on Twitter @LauraGoldbergHC

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