Journalist Q&A: Kelly Evans, Wall Street Journal

Kelly Evans, Wall Street Journal columnist and host of its morning News Hub, talks to Jaimy Lee about how the broadcast program taps into the paper's network of journalists and global news' impact on business

Name: Kelly Evans
Title: "Ahead of the Tape" columnist and host of The Wall Street Journal's morning News Hub
Outlet: The Wall Street Journal
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Kelly Evans, Wall Street Journal columnist and host of its morning News Hub, talks to Jaimy Lee about how the broadcast program taps into the paper's network of journalists and global news' impact on business

How has the program evolved since its debut?

We go live every morning at 8:30am. When we started in 2009, it was the big business stories of the day. Increasingly, it's the big news stories of the day. It mirrors more broadly what the paper is doing as it is getting more news-focused and more international.

We now have a separate markets show at 10am because being on top of the big stories is what serves News Hub best. We try to keep it less than 10 minutes, but ultimately we'll be building out to several hours' worth of coverage every day. Basically, it's going to be Wall Street Journal TV.

So, on a daily basis, you are tapping into the WSJ's network of experts?

We have these incredibly smart reporters who would be giving their views or reporting on TV or radio outlets for other news organizations. Why not try to bring the eyeballs or the traffic to and tap into the knowledge our staff has?

If you compare us with a big, national TV news organization, the resources are somewhat similar. It also gets journalists a lot more comfortable with the format and thinking.

We just sent iPhones to 50 reporters in different locations and tried to get them used to the idea of shooting video, sending it to us, and taking part in the process. There's not a wall between what TV might call the "talent" and the producers. Everyone is working together. I might have as much input or influence on the show's topic as a producer would on another day.

What types of stories are you looking for?

Stories that have an impact, not just politically, but also on the markets and the business community. So much of TV news is segmented into: "This is a business story" or "This is a personal finance story."

There's so much about what we see in the world today that directly impacts everyday business and investing decisions. When we talk about Middle East unrest, we'll focus on oil prices and the impact on consumers just as much as the broader, human interest story.

What are the big issues you will be following?

Certainly, one is the outlook for the US recovery. The real question is whether we have reached a point of sustainable expansion or will we continue to need government and policy support to keep things alive. Another question is the impact of higher commodities prices and supply costs driven by a lot of strength in other markets.

The US is undergoing a standard-of-living shock as the rest of the world gets richer. How we manage through that and what it means for our political and economic systems is a big question. I'm trying to keep an eye on various signs of unrest, from protests over collective bargaining rights to lack of confidence as food and gas prices rise, and I wonder how much bargaining power the US now has in the world economy.

Does the program break news or is its focus more on analysis of various issues and stories?

We'll cover economic data if it's out or we'll try to bring stories that are just breaking if there's a big merger. The 4pm show is better situated because it can work with the paper to say, "If we have this big story in the works, let's put it online and have the reporter on the show talking about it, all right at 4pm." Ultimately, you'll see the Journal and our shows bring in more outside guests and potentially break more news.

How often do you bring in outside guests?

It varies. There will be weeks where we'll have three or five of them spread out through the shows and there will be others where we'll only have one or two. I hesitate to bring in outside guests whenever I think they won't add something our reporters can't.

There's also the question of resources. It's a lot of work to bring in outside guests and we have a short show. We want the flexibility to react and we don't have a green room. We can't say, "We'll bring you on in the next hour."

What we don't want is someone who will analyze, explain, or offer an opinion. We want the newsmaker, the CEO, the economist whose take is particularly interesting, or the analyst who has been covering the oil sector for 10 years.

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