Media Moves

Get your head in the game, business reporter

December 1, 2015

Posted by Allen Wastler

Allen Wastler 3If you’re a business journalist, you have to have your head in the game the moment you walk through the office door. Earlier even.

Like the movie says, money never sleeps. So your beat or assignment could have, quite literally, had a major change overnight. Sure, that can happen in any journalistic area.

But for business beats it’s a regular occurrence. And if you’re part of a market coverage team, well, you and the weather guys and gals are in the same boat.

So most seasoned biz journos have some a routine for reading in and catching up with the overnight news flow. If you’re starting out, you should develop one.

Here’s a game some of us play to help shake off the morning funk and get the mind focused on the money.

Typically reporter and editor types listen to the radio during commutes or showers to catch up on headlines. (I’m a Bloomberg Radio fan, but there are obviously other choices out there).

Amid the conversations there will be a “business break” where major money headlines are recited and market indicators are reviewed.

Make it a point to predict what the indicator number will be before the announcer actually says it. The exercise forces you to not only think about the number, but also the direction and the reason. And it makes you do it relatively quickly.

“Futures are heading …” (Up or down or sidewise because of a bellwether move? Europe or Asia sentiment?)

“Oil is trading at …” (What’s happening with supply? Recent distribution issues?)

“Gold is priced at …” (Issue specific to the metal, inflation, or flight to safety?)

“And the 10-year yield is…” (Recent Fedspeak? Same direction as yesterday? Why?)

Sure, it’s a simple exercise. Some may even think it’s too simplistic. But various colleagues and I use it as a quick and easy way to get in the groove. You are not just listening, you’re thinking. And you get a little smug satisfaction when your mental guesses are spot on with the actual numbers.

And depending on your beat, the game may lead you to start thinking about knock-on effects you’ll need to pay attention to that day. Is the 10-year yield move going to hit real estate sales? Do airlines need to pay attention to that oil price shift?

So play the game. If nothing else it’ll give you something to do while you get the shampoo out of your eyes or wait for the traffic light to change.

Allen Wastler is the former managing editor of He can be reached at

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