Meet a rising star at Fox Business Network
Jo Ling Kent, who joined Fox Business Network as a reporter in May 2013, is a rising star.
She has recently been added to Maria Bartiromo’s “Opening Bell,” and she’s been covering the massive upcoming Alibaba IPO.
Prior to joining Fox Business, Kent served as an on-air reporter for NBC’s owned and operated station WVIT-TV in Hartford. In this role she covered local businesses as a general assignment and investigative reporter.
Before joining NBC, she covered the Chinese economy, human rights, Taiwan trade and environmental issues as an associate producer in CNN’s Beijing bureau. She got her start in television working as a web reporter for ABC News where she covered the Beijing Olympics, 2008 Taiwan elections, unrest in Tibet and the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
A graduate of the London School of Economics and Peking University, Kent holds two master’s degrees in international affairs, in addition to a bachelor’s of arts degree from Rice University. She was U.S. Fulbright Fellow to China, specializing in the effects of legal aid for underprivileged women in China’s criminal justice system. She originally hails from Minnesota and is fluent in Mandarin.
Kent spoke by telephone with Talking Biz News on Tuesday about her job and her career. What follows is an edited transcript.
How did you get interested in covering business news?
There’s been this common theme of covering the economy from the beginning of my career. At ABC News, I got to cover various parts of the Chinese economy in 2007. And then after graduate school, I got a job at CNN as a producer, and we covered everything, from human rights to natural disasters to macro economy, and everything seemed to loom back to the economy and economic policy.
And when I covered the 2012 presidential election as an embedded reporter, there were a lot of stories about economic policy.
How did you learn what you needed to know to cover business?
I have a degree on public policy. So that was a good foundation, going to Rice and then the London School of Economics. It laid a bedrock from which I could learn what was happening in the wider world.
The way I learned was really on the job. I read a lot. I call a group of sources every single day, and they range from all different sectors. And I learn from my fellow journalists. There are some amazing journalists out there breaking some incredible investigative stories.
What were the issues in covering business and economic stories in China?
We were looking at how the growth rate in China was growing rapidly but there was an anticipated slowdown, and what that meant for the U.S. and what it means for the citizens in China. I grew up in a mixed culture, so I was always interested in the China-U.S. relationships. It was always important to me in how that worked. I covered a lot of stories on gross domestic product and factory floors and interviewing officials who were playing a major role in how the economy works. And we looked at consumption around the world for phones and televisions and clothing and food and how that affected China.
One of the most interested stories I did was how Americans consumed denim, and it was an investigative report in the Pearl River Delta. The factories there dye the denim. I produced a piece that looked at what happens to the environment there. It really does have a global impact and an environmental impact of what happens in China with what consumers purchase around the world.
Why did you decide to come back to the States?
I had an incredible experience covering China for CNN. But I needed a change, and I wanted to cover a personal passion of mine, which was national politics, and I was an embedded reporter covering the race. It was an amazing year on the campaign trial.
What types of business stories did you cover in Hartford?
I did some investigative stories on the consumer side of the business world. For example, I investigated this local wedding photographer who a bunch of our viewers had called us about. They had told us they couldn’t get their wedding videos from this guy. He was conning dozens of couples across multiple states. After my story ran, the Massachusetts attorney general ended up investigating him and freezing his assets. So it was one of those classic situations where you can have a local impact.
How different is Hartford business stories to what you are doing now?
It’s a world of difference, but so many themes are the same. Covering the Hartford business community opened my eyes to what is happening on the ground and that can impact everyone.
At Fox Business, I cover more of a macro level, how economic policy is made and what it is made. I can interview CEOs of major companies, such as the CEO of T-Mobile, who I just interviewed, and talk to them about where the company is going. But we also talked about how his decisions impact the person subscribing to T-Mobile.
I love that I am able to have the experience of being on the ground as a local reporter but now I can interview the biggest names in business and ask them questions about their consumers.
Why did you decide to move to Fox Business?
The opportunity was just fantastic. The opportunity to report on China and cover technology, which are two very hot growing stories. I love following stories that are changing every single day. China has been a longtime passion of mine and probably will be forever.
In technology, it’s not just tech. It’s becoming media. It’s becoming telecom. It’s part of the every day person’s life. You have to understand the decisions and how they impact our lives, our privacy and our money.
What’s been the biggest issue in covering the Alibaba IPO that you’ve had to overcome?
I have covered Alibaba for several years. It is a really fascinating company. One of the biggest challenges is its size and its transparency. There is a lot about Alibaba that we’re still waiting to find out about. We still don’t know who all of the stakeholders are. It’s a company that is also well connected to the Chinese government as well, so I am looking into those relationships.
They do everything from e-commerce to payments, mobile and cloud storage. They do everything. So figuring out how the company works for people is important. What I am trying to figure out is the intricacies of the company.
Twins or Vikings?
I have to say both teams have broken my hearts over the years. When the Vikings lost to the Falcons on that missed kick in the late 90s, I was heartbroken. I thought we were going to the Super Bowl. I am a tried and true Minnesotan , so I am going to stand by them.