Despite rapid changes in the media landscape, the fundamental strengths of being a clear thinker and writer are still necessary for journalists, says Kevin Noblet, managing editor of wealth management coverage at Dow Jones Newswires.
He should know.
In an eventful 28-year career with Associated Press, Noblet worked multiple roles from business to deputy international editor and, also, directed coverage for two stories that won Pulitzer Prizes. SAJAForum's Rakesh Sharma caught up with Noblet, who will be conducting a workshop about business reporting at SAJA's convention this year.
SF: How did you get started with journalism?
KN: I was an English major in college and decided journalism was one way to get paid for my major after graduation. It was as simple as that.
SF: You have covered events at the local level (with community newspapers in Connecticut) as well as at the international level (with AP). What is the difference in approach?
KN: In some ways, it is very much the same because ultimately you are writing about people. However, events in the international story are larger in scale and you also have to deal with another language and culture. Most importantly, you are also distant from your audience. In a community newspaper, you have the luxury of readers calling or dropping in. This helps you gauge feedback. Of course, that might not hold true any longer because your audience is electronically closer, thanks to the Internet.
SF: Is there a difference between business journalism and other kinds of journalism?
KN: One of the great things about business journalism is that there are concrete objective measures you can rely on to test the accuracy of sources. This is different from political reporting where it is much more difficult to test accuracies. That said, I do believe that business journalism is also about people and has its own ethical, moral, and social issues.
SF: Which place was most memorable for you in international reporting?
KN: Haiti. I spent a year there (over the course of three years) during the early 1990s. This was a time of great political turmoil. Social and poverty issues were pretty widespread and dramatic. I also reported about the earthquake from there last year. Given their problems, I must say Haitians are an extremely resilient people.
SF: Can you tell us a little bit about your experience directing coverage for stories that won Pulitzers?
KN: Both experiences were quite different. The first Pulitzer was awarded to a very talented AP reporter covering the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. He was a talented writer, and, as an editor, my job was to simply help shepherd his copy to the wire and make sure no heavy-handed copy editor messed with it! The second prize was for a very long, painstaking and sometimes just painful investigation into a wartime massacre in Korea some 50 years earlier. Our team of reporters and editors worked on it for many months. There was a bigger sense of accomplishment when that project was finally done.