Business journalist Francine McKenna talked with the Substack blog about how she transformed herself from an accountant into a business journalist. She now has a newsletter called The Dig, which covers corporate governance and accounting issues.
Here is an excerpt:
I started it anonymously at the end of 2006, beginning of 2007. People started emailing me like, “Who are you?” Including from outside the U.S., because I was talking about the firms from a very critical perspective. The big four public accounting firms and their consulting arms: PwC, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and KPMG. Very few people have the freedom to talk about sort of the inside, the business end of those firms. Because you’re usually either working for them or you’re working for a company and you’re dependent on them. Or you’re somehow in the ecosystem of lawyers and the consultants, who are also dependent on their good favor.
Very few people actually know what goes on inside the firms and are free to talk about it. People were really curious and then I realized, why am I writing anonymously? How am I going to get a book deal from writing a blog if people don’t know who I am? I’m going to have to stand by my opinions. I put my name on the blog and it’s called re: The Auditors. R-E, The Auditors. Like in re: a litigation, or in reference to the auditors. I started writing and lo and behold, that was the beginning of 2007, 2008. We started having issues with the subprime and then the financial crisis.
The expertise that I had became very much in demand. Very few people could explain all the complex accounting and the role of the auditors in all of the different banks and companies that were under stress. At a certain point, I was at the point of no return because I had been so critical and had been talking so frankly about what was going on that nobody was ever going to hire me back in the firms or anywhere else. I had to just go forward and try to become a journalist and I approached that from the same sort of professional perspective that I did my previous career. And tried to learn from the best people and work for the best editors, and eventually ended up in a full-time role at MarketWatch in 2015 here in Washington, D.C.
To listen, go here.