This piece was meant to start out with “I have not felt like a proper business journalist until two days ago…”, highlighting only one supporting point; but, a quick pause made me realize that all three points I’m about to address in my piece here are linked to that fact that I’ve possibly hit a little “growth” (or personal milestone if you can call it) in my business journalism career thus far.
FIRSTLY, I stunned myself by having gone for an assignment (an AGM) that I was not assigned to go. I’m on 2pm shift last week week, which generally means I’m an ‘in-house’ writer for the week; thus I’d be home late and would very much want to sleep in the next day. The assignment was in the morning, I went anyway. And everyone knows how sleep is so very important to me!
See, I came across this company’s name in the assignment list the late night before. It was a company linked to a personality of whom I’ve written about before, and I’ve “heard” some stuff about the company in the market, and so I thought I’d go have a look see. And knowing me, I can’t go to an assignment not knowing the latest financial performance of background of it, so at 2 am (couldn’t sleep early that night don’t know why) I switched on my lap top and had a quick read up on its latest financials, annual report and whatnot.
And my damn memory could remember these numbers off my head the next day.
I’ve learned that my rather powerful memory can work towards my advantage as it can be towards my disadvantage as it tires me out easily, even though it comes off so naturally. I don’t know how this came about but since young, I have a knack of remembering people’s names after the first time I met them, or the conversations I had with people (no matter how simple or ‘insignificant’ they may be), the things I hear, when did incidents happen etc.
It surprises people how I seem to remember all these, I’ve been told again and again.
Heck I can even remember which writer wrote what (assuming I’ve read the piece, of course), what was the jist of the piece, the lead even, for some, and who covered what assignment.
Anyway, back to the point above, I gave myself a shock as it marks my erm “gung ho-ness” towards my job… NOT just in getting stories – which I have been doing it already securing interviews in the past ten months – but it’s more of… the curiousity got the better of me. As a writer, in my case at least, I hope to be able to meet the people I write about one day. Else it’s all just “superficial” and coming up with words based on words of other people, if you know what I mean.
Then again, there could also be a repercussion in writing about someone you already know or met, for it could deviate your objectivity. It really depends on how objective or professional you take your role, I suppose.
SECONDLY, I also stunned myself by having picked up this new habit of: checking stock prices. NOT just the “Oh I suddenly thought of this company…” then heads to Bloomberg website and check how it’s doing. BUT more of checking the “top active”, “top gainers and losers” Bursa list on my smart phone as well as on Bursa’s website on my desktop! SOMETHING WHICH I HAVE NOT DONE SO IN THE PAST TEN MONTHS.
Admittedly, and embarrassingly, I’ve only realized that I can do that. And I got hooked onto it.
Also, perhaps I never had to do that previously as I was with the daily paper, and thus mostly just going out on assignments and stuff, not having to stay in and “monitor” the stock market. Alas I know what this means, after that long into the job// smacks head. Also maybe because I’ve been blessed to have stories in the pipeline to work on, and thus not needing to turn to the “stock market” for ideas. But now that we are merged, the daily and the web team that is, this little finding of mine is proving to be quite handy! And fun. (Clearly, I’m not a trader or a “player” in the market…unlike many of my friends, and contrary to what some may think of me despite being a business journalist)
THIRDLY, it comes down sources and contacts. Two weeks back, on one of the days, I felt like the most investigative person ever. It was the day that I regarded as “having exhausted all my sources” to land that story, which was still weak because I did not manage to get all the information I want and that I felt was needed in my piece. Really, I think I at least made five calls to people whom I’ve established a certain rapport with and whom I know is very “in-the-know in the market”.
It was that day that I realize that this job, contacts and relationships is so very important. Having knowledge and depth is important, almost like the very basics I’d think in this job, but the “bonus” for you to ride on your knowledge and analysis is the information that is out there.
And this is something which I’m grateful for as well, having the opportunity to have built some rapport with people I’ve met thus far. I always believe, you don’t have
to force/fake to be good friends with 10/10 people you meet; be yourself and be real, if you manage to have chemistry with 3/10, I’m happy enough. Of course, having a great personality, as well as basic etiquette, such as being respectful and polite, helps on this front too.
Now, what’s next?
I’m glad I haven’t “run dry” of story pipelines as of yet; but what I’d like to challenge myself further perhaps is to venture into sectors I have not covered before and am not familiar with, perhaps oil and gas? Construction? Energy? We’ll see.
Last week, a colleague of mine told me something which made me very happy.
He said that a fellow business journalist of a competitor paper complimented me. They were both in the plane, on the same assignment and apparently had a good long chat about…me// shy. I’ve met the other person a few times during some assignments, and though we are not close, I dropped him a text anyway to thank him for what he said, if it was true.
Of which he replied: “I hope the business media line will have more people like you to push this industry to move towards a more professional and vibrant industry.” I am truly humbled, thank you, for your kind words.
Personally, I have high regard for people who did not come from any business background and yet through sheer hard work, willingness to learn, managed to grasp these concepts.
It sometimes still bothers me when other writers don’t bother preparing and blindly depend on others to ask questions, but I have mostly gotten over it as I have learned that, one can truly see the difference. Of course, ask because you want to know and that it is for the public to know, and not ask just because. But by having prepared for it, and having asked questions, the tendency for the person to remember you is higher. I can’t imagine having “covered” the companies countless times over and over again without having posted one question during the press conference and that the CEO/ whoever does not know my (not my company, my name) existence.
On this, I am pretty embarrassed to point out that, at one event some three weeks back, I failed to ask even one question during the conference, no matter that it was a very short one. I did ask a few thereafter when we were “jolok-ing” the person, though. But not counted. I’m so used to asking at least one or two, sometimes many more questions that I was pretty disappointed in myself for not doing so in the PC, despite having questions at hand to do so. Sigh, oh well.
One last concluding note, despite being with the “premier business” paper in the country, I do not and will not let it allow me to be superior towards others. Though I have never once looked down on a company, it does hit me that… Yes, have a certain standard and class, but don’t demand for so much just because we are in a more privileged position. To which sometimes I feel, it could be better starting off or being in a less well-known establishment for it gives you the humility to strive forward harder.
“The best is yet to come,” I believe… considering that I erm, only started with the three points mentioned above? Passion, grit, and hopefully a good support (although still very small pool) of contacts I’ve built?