Sahar Majid of the International Journalists Network interviewed Philadelphia Inquirer business reporter Diane Mastrull about her job.
Majid writes, “Business is not the kind of beat that can be handled in isolation, because so many other story topics — education, health, travel, marriage, divorce — are connected with money in one way or the other, Mastrull said. ‘It blends everything,’ she added.
“This is partly why Mastrull draws heavily on her past experience as a court reporter. The ability to find and analyze relevant documents — such as bankruptcy records — has served her well in fleshing out her reporting, she said.
“Audiences tend to be more interested in hearing stories of the people behind the businesses than the business itself, which contradicts the general perception that business reporting is boring, dry and all about statistics.
“Mastrull said she believes that people want to know what motivated successful businessmen and women and what hurdles they had to face in order to get to where they are. While the business beat does deal with economics, it still requires general reporting and storytelling skills.
“‘Businesses are very much about the people behind them,’ Mastrull said. ‘Everybody has a story of what led them to what they are doing and sometimes it’s really amazing, the journey they’ve been on.'”
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