OLD Media Moves

Fox Business Network's Joshi on reporting from India

July 20, 2009


Fox Business Network reporter Shibani Joshi spent time in India last week reporting on business in that fast-growing country. Stories about India have been appearing on Fox Business Network shows throughout the day.

Her reporting will culminate in a one-hour special scheduled to air later this week on the business network.

Joshi, who joined Fox Business in September 2007 just before it started airing, talked to Talking Biz News via e-mail about the coverage she did in India. What follows is an edited transcript.

1. What kind of leg work did you do before going to India?

This was a project that was many months in the making.  It started out with outlining a few editorial themes and seeing who was available to talk on the dates we would be in India.  In the weeks before the trip, we tightened up our editorial focus and finalized our guest list. But even on the ground in Mumbai, things continued to evolve. There were so many moving pieces and luckily, I was equipped with an amazing team who could quickly and effectively deal with all the curve balls we were thrown.Â

2. You had reported from India before. How did that help?

I have worked in India before, but I have never reported from India. So this was a new experience for me and for Fox Business.  Having been to India dozens of times before, I knew to be prepared for the unexpected and warned my team to be ready for the same.  India delivered, in that regards.  Our trip coincided with monsoon season in the country and it rained cats and dogs while we were on the ground.

That made travel challenging for us and the executives we interviewed and forced us to be more creative with doing our outdoor reports. There was a lot of ducking for cover when we were outside in the few moments of rain break.  But we had a lot of fun during it all because we all took it in stride and were prepared for chaos. It wasn’t nearly as chaotic as we thought, though all our shoes did get ruined!

3. Why is India an important story for Fox Business Network?

India and China are the two most important emerging markets in the world. These countries are still growing while the US and other major economies are in the process of bottoming out.  India is a trillion dollar economy with a majority of its billion plus population under 35 years of age and they want American stuff! They buy it, they crave it, they demand it.  American companies are responding to not only create a new market for their goods and services, but are using it to find a way to counteract the slowdown on American shores.  There is opportunity in India and we are here to cover it.Â

4. How is reporting on India business and economy different than reporting on it in the States?

With India’s development and growth you talk a lot about social issues too.  You can’t talk about the prospects in India without talking about issues like poverty with more than 500 million Indians living on less than $1 per day. Infrastructure, education and energy issues plague the country still. But India is advancing. As it grows economically, you see the discourse and action grow in these areas of social issues.  When I did my reports, I mention all of these issues too.

5. Since this is the first time Fox Biz reported on India, what were you hoping to accomplish with your coverage?

This is the very first time Fox Biz has sent a reporter on the ground to India. So it was a learning experience on many levels with the magnifying glass on me across the board.  We had two main stories we wanted to cover:  first GM’s presence and plans in India. The Indian operations were not part of the bankruptcy and continued to invest hundreds of millions into  India. We wanted to explore what that was all about and how it would contribute to a stronger GM at home. Â

The other was a look at the Indian auto companies who would launch vehicles in the U.S. market, with some focus on auto suppliers too.  We wanted to break news with these interviews and they did. So from that perspective, our objectives were reached.  We augmented the coverage by talking about the consumer sector too, with interviews from leading company executives like  Pepsi, Cargill and McDonald’s India. We were happy with what we accomplished there tooÂ

6. Do you think it was an advantage in reporting being a person of Indian heritage?

Well, the Indian business story is one that doesn’t need to be told by an Indian person.  Growth in that country is of global interest and everyone is talking about the topic. However, I do know that my personal anecdotes and knowledge of the country helped me tell stories in a different way. I had more to offer than just figures and statistics. I had experience and perspective that I could also bring to the table. I weaved it into my reporting and offered perspective that I believe is unique.

Something that also helped was my network of contacts in the Indian business arena. I have attended dozens of South Asian business conferences, so I had potential interview candidates in my rolodex already and sought out some of my interviewees through my global Harvard Business School network. All of that helped contribute to a really successful broadcast.

7. Do you think the American business media has done a good job in covering the India story?

What I was really happy with in our coverage of India was the connection back to the U.S. on how India’s growth matters to America and helps bolster prosperity here.  When media covers emerging markets like India, it often talks about it like it is a substitute — as in invest in Indian stocks or securities instead of U.S. equivalents while the American economy rebounds — or worse yet like India is stealing U.S. jobs when American companies invest there.

What we relayed in our reporting is that the opportunity in India is additive or complementary to growth in the cases we examined. A key to the revival of the US economy is a strong and prosperous India. American companies cannot just export products to places like India. They need to be on the ground there in order to be competitive, requiring investment in people and operations on Indian soil. Our interview guests explained the connection to home turf starting with Indian investment. Â

Execs from companies like McDonald’s and Pepsi told us directly that U.S. is the most important market for their corporations and will be so for a long time to come. But that they cannot ignore emerging markets because, right now, for their firms, the greatest growth is there.  We told the other side of the story and showed how India is one of — but not the only — keys to America’s economic rebound. We connected the dots from India to America.Â

8. With U.S. media cutting back on international coverage, what’s the future for such stories?

What it means is that the most compelling, impactful and wide reaching stories will be told.  While I would have loved to stay in India for longer to tell a host of other stories — like stories on the Bollywood/Hollywood crossover, the opportunity for investment in infrastructure in India and so much more. Time and budgets would not allow for it. We had to prioritize and tell the stories we thought were most relevant and impactful. For us, the auto and consumer product stories were it. And, fortunately, it tied in with breaking news about GM and earnings season, so our interviews broke news.Â

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