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Lori Rothman, Fox Business Network: Bonds can be sexy, too

Lori Rothman, Fox Business News

Lori Rothman joined the Fox Business Network in September 2010.

Prior to joining FBN, Rothman served as a dayside anchor at Bloomberg Television covering markets, corporate earnings, and the global economic recessioLarger version of 5 questions with logon. While there, Rothman interviewed major financial newsmakers including: BlackRock Vice Chairman Bob Doll; Rochdale Securities analyst Dick Bove; billionaire investor Wilbur Ross and former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Christina Romer. Prior to that, she reported from the New York Stock Exchange for Bloomberg Television’s syndicated reports.

Before joining Bloomberg, Rothman anchored morning news programming at WPTZ-TV, the NBC affiliate in Burlington/Plattsburgh, where she was recognized with an Associated Press award for coverage of flooding in the region. She also served as a weekend anchor for CBS affiliate KREX-TV in Grand Junction, Colorado and as a reporter for CW affiliate KJUD-TV in Juneau, Alaska.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast journalism and history from the University of Southern California.

1.) When you were first starting out, how did you educate yourself about the financial markets in order to cover them effectively?

I couldn’t have had a better first assignment as a business journalist. I covered the stock market from the floor of the NYSE. It was back in 2000, when the exchange was booming and open outcry was still the main way to trade. I shadowed traders, clerks and specialists to get a firsthand understanding of market making and the fundamentals of analyzing individual stocks and the broader markets.

2.) Was it hard to transition from local news coverage to reporting on the economy?

It wasn’t a difficult transition. During my career in local news, I gravitated toward business and economic stories. I covered everything from tourism and logging in Juneau, Alaska, to unemployment and corporate development in Plattsburgh, New York.

In fact, one of the last stories I covered in the Plattsburgh/Burlington market was the Ben & Jerry’s deal to be acquired by Unilever. What’s interesting now is how the national business and economic story is largely being influenced by what’s going on at the state and local level. Look at the state budget and union battle in Wisconsin. Further, there is a lot of attention focused on how to grow small business. Economists agree that small business is the engine of economic growth; therefore, it’s where we need to see the most robust job growth to bring the country back to full employment. Bottom line: local stories are driving national business themes.

3.) In hindsight, what would you have done differently?

In hindsight, during college, I would have spent less time interning at TV stations and more time interning on trading desks or at investment banks. It’s probably easier learning reporting and presentation skills on the job than it is learning the ins and outs of financial markets and economics.

4.) What would you recommend for a journalist to better understand economic policy in order to improve coverage?

It may sound silly, but I think the bond market is underrated in terms of how much TV coverage we dedicate to it. People generally find bonds boring and unsexy. But, in reality, interest rates are the best gauge of inflation expectations, monetary policy, and the direction of the overall economy. Plus, interest rates are a driving force in most of our lifestyle decisions by way of mortgages, auto loans, and credit cards.

5.) Do you have any tips for new business journalists? Either someone new to journalism or someone who has moved from another beat to the business desk?

Business news is very cyclical and can be very complicated. My advice is to keep a calendar of earnings releases, economic reports and Fed events and a Rolodex of your favorite guests – market strategists, analysts and economists. Chemistry is key on TV and if there’s an expert you have a good relationship with, it can make an otherwise dry topic a little more interesting and resonate beyond just a business audience.

When conducting interviews, I always take on the role of student. More often than not, the people you’re interviewing have more expertise on the topic  than you do. It’s also important to take that complicated topic and explain it in the most simple, conversational way possible. You won’t impress anyone with ‘inside baseball’ and jargon.

About the Author

I am currently a graduate student at the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication focusing on Broadcast Journalism. I received my Bachelor's Degree in Business Finance from the University of Washington. This past year I was an Inventory Control Specialist at the corporate offices of Costco Wholesale before deciding to get my Master's Degree.

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