CNBC’s Tausche talks switching anchor chair for DC beat
Kayla Tausche moved to Washington, DC, a year ago this month to become a reporter for CNBC after being an anchor for the business news network in New York.
Before moving to DC, Tausche was an on-air correspondent and co-anchor of CNBC’s “Squawk Alley,” where she focused on the big money backing technology and innovation. She has also covered the banking industry as well as corporate finance and deals.
While at CNBC, Tausche has broken numerous stories and reported on a wide variety of high-profile events, including the historic Brexit vote, the Facebook, Twitter and Alibaba IPOs, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the News Corp. phone hacking scandal.
She spoke by email with Talking Biz News about the switch from the anchor chair to covering politics in Washington. What follows is an edited transcript.
What made you decide to move to a position in DC?
Washington has always been a dynamic news city and a draw for journalists, and I’ve always been interested in politics and international relations. It’s rare that an election is as consequential as the 2016 race was, and I found myself itching to get off the anchor desk and back into the field to cover breaking news.
What’s the biggest difference between anchoring a show and doing daily reports?
The hours are all-consuming and unpredictable compared to the consistency of a show. The work product is different (relatively short spurts of news with graphics and soundbites, compared to conversational segments and interviews) but in both roles, I’ve always been focused on gathering and breaking my own news.
How did you develop sources in DC?
I started by cold-calling and emailing the people in decision-making roles that I figured I’d need to know. LinkedIn Premium is a great tool for finding specific subject matter experts. Working at a television network means the makeup chairs and green rooms are always filled with people of interest. When all else fails, I’ll introduce myself there.
How did you prepare for the shift before you physically moved to DC?
As soon as the news became public, I was flooded with emails from friends, colleagues and sources about people I should know on the ground. I began establishing new connections and reading everything I possibly could. I also made flashcards of the members of Congress so I could easily recognize them on the fly in the halls of Capitol Hill.
How do you pitch stories?
Breaking news dominate the airwaves, so my first preference is to call in to our newsdesk with information that’s exclusive to me and CNBC. The shows will then decide how much time to carve out to discuss the story.
I also try to find and profile companies and individuals who are feeling the impact of policy changes at the microeconomic level — the steel company pushing for tariffs; the art gallery near a national monument worried about a drop in tourism; the recent college grads who are making money betting on Trump’s Twitter storms.
What’s your typical day like?
It’s nomadic and usually starts very early. It begins with hair and makeup at our Washington bureau anytime from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m., and from there I’m dispatched to the White House or Capitol Hill, depending on where the news of the day is. You can always find me in sensible shoes and with my entire life in my backpack.
What kind of travel have you done for stories?
It varies, depending on what’s top of mind for the policy agenda and the markets. In May, I traveled to Arkansas to profile its role in the national health care debate. In November, I went to Asia during President Trump’s visit, but with Washington being the seat of power and the vortex of the action, I’m traveling far less than I used to for interviews or conferences.
What’s been the hardest story you’ve covered in the past year and why?
Covering the White House is like standing on shifting sands. Facts change quickly — what’s true Tuesday may well be outdated Wednesday. Plus, the existence of highly varied ideological camps within the West Wings means sources push their different, preferred agendas.
What do you like about covering more political-oriented stories?
There’s a high level of accountability with fewer gatekeepers than beats I’ve covered in the past. A Fortune 500 company won’t let you camp outside the office of a CEO the way you can wait outside a congressman’s office for a comment.
Also, the scale of the impact is dramatically bigger. The number of people employed by or invested in a private company I would’ve covered before pales in comparison to the tens of millions of people affected by a potential policy change or geopolitical issue.
What’s the best thing about your job?
There’s never a dull moment!