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Coffee With A Journalist - Julia Boorstin, CNBC

Coffee with a Journalist: Julia Boorstin, CNBC

On episode 32 of Coffee with a Journalist, host, Beck Bamberger, is joined by Julia Boorstin of CNBC. Julia is a Senior Media and Entertainment Reporter that covers social media and tech companies impacting and disrupting industries. During their conversation, Julia gives Beck insight into how she manages her “overflowing” inbox, integrates pitch info into her coverage, and her work highlighting industry disruptors and social equity efforts in businesses. 

Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:

Her Work Inbox

Beck:

Me too. I’m in the same boat. Sadly, we’re doing this in the morning, and I do not have my coffee yet. So you’re going to carry the weight here, and enthusiasm, Julia. Here we go. But first, tell us, tell us, I know you have lots of opinions on this. How’s your inbox and how do you like pitches?

Julia:

My inbox is overflowing. I don’t even want to look at my inbox right now. I closed my inbox so it wouldn’t make noise during this podcast. I think yesterday, I actually went through and deleted 400 emails and I got it down to about 1,600.

Beck:

Oh, 1600.

Julia:

Yeah, it’s bad. But our storage system has been a little funky since we’ve all been working from home.

Beck:

Oh, yeah.

Julia:

So harder to save things to folders. But I get a ton of pitches all the time. Some of them are good, some of them are not good. I love pitches when they’re going to alert me of upcoming embargoed news. I hate pitches when they’re a week after something has already happened.

Beck:

Yeah. Do you get those?

Julia:

Oh yeah.

Beck:

“Hey, by the way, Julia, this thing happened 10 days ago. You want to talk about it?”

Julia:

Yeah, I get those. I got a couple of those yesterday, and I sent a nasty email back saying, “Next time, please give me a heads-up ahead of time, and maybe we can talk about it.”

Beck:

Yeah.

Julia:

But I work in TV, which is like the 24/7 world of needing to be ahead of things and not behind. So very sensitive to getting things late.

Her Thoughts on Pitches

Beck:

How do you suss out the pitches? Do you look at the subject lines and deduce from there?

Julia:

I usually, I look at the subject lines and the first couple of sentences. I feel like most people who pitch me don’t make an effort to understand what it is that I do at CNBC. I think that there’s just a lot of people who just send blanket pitches, because they have my email in there. They don’t think, “Okay, this is a business network. She covers these kinds of companies. Here’s how it might fit for her.” So many people who pitch me have never watched CNBC once, and it’s just not helpful. I’m always looking for new ideas. I’m always open to pitches. But I think the key thing is really to make sure that the pitch includes some knowledge of what it is that I’m doing, what kinds of stories I generally do. If you’re going to pitch me on some random entertainment event that has no business story, or some celebrity thing of a celebrity endorsement of something, we just don’t do that kind of story on CNBC.

Beck:

Yeah.

Julia:

I read the pitches. I just will delete them if it’s useless.

Beck:

Yep, got it. So you’re a firm deleter. Are you a filer? Do you file any?

Julia:

I file, but with a pitch, either it’s going to be, either I’m going to respond to it or I’m going to delete it. But the main thing, and I don’t know how much you want me to dive into this, is this idea that TV is really different than magazines or other things. I really need a news peg. I really need to know why I’m getting this story now. If I’m going to try to do a CEO interview or a story, tell me, why now? Also, tell me what’s new or different and give it some business context. I need to know what the business implications are, not just that it’s a cool thing.

How She Writes Stories

Beck:

Yep, this is true. Wow, I have to say, you seem like the damn busiest reporter I’ve had on here yet, Julia, and there’s been 40 other people on this show. Wow, love it. Go you. Tell us a bit about the making of a story. For example, you did just, you mentioned the TikTok stuff that you’ve been doing. You had something with the NFL and you had something with Disney and of course this is your beat. But when you’re thinking of actually creating the story, does anything ever originate, for example, from a pitch? Or are you just in the news circuit and going, “Okay, I now must do something about X company, because it’s bubbling up”?

Julia:

It’s all of the above. TV is so news-driven that if I get a pitch saying, “Okay, this news is coming tomorrow.” Or, “We’re going to be releasing this report on cord-cutting tomorrow,” then I will very much say, “Okay, you know what? This is a great time to do a story on cord-cutting, because we’re going to get earnings from the cable companies next week, and they’re going to tell us that their cable numbers have dropped off.” To me, it’s really about integrating the stuff I get in pitches with the news cycle and things that are happening. For instance, if there was something on the rise of gambling on sports, sports betting, and I said, “Okay, well, the NFL season is coming up. We should do a story on …” Let’s say it was a pitch on DraftKings. We should do that story the week that the NFL season starts. Because it makes sense to peg them together. I think a lot of it is about integrating like little heads-up I’m getting from pitches with stuff I know I have to do anyways. Does that make sense?

Beck:

Yeah, yeah. Most of the answers for this, too, is that it vastly depends. Sometimes it’s, you see it on Twitter, you see it from a pitch, you see it from a news site. It’s all across the board.

Julia:

Yeah.

Beck:

Sometimes I think people also have a little bit of a, like a method, a bit. I’m like, “Let me noodle on that.” And then a couple hours later, they’re doing that. But it totally depends on the beat. If someone’s in a fast news cycle versus investigative journalists, they can be working five months on a thing. So it just, it totally changes. It’s fascinating.

Julia:

This is much more the fast news cycle, just because it’s TV. It’s like, okay, I wake up in the morning and if something happens or a stock pops or news comes out, I’m on TV immediately.

Beck:

Yep.

Julia:

It’s more important than ever to be able to jump on things. Or let’s say for instance the TikTok thing is happening. If I get a pitch saying, “Okay, Triller actually was number one in the app store last week,” and so I did a story on Triller. Because I was like, “Well, you know about TikTok, let me tell you about this other app that’s similar.” So being able to take things that are in the news, do the breaking news, and then figure out how to take the story one step further and advance it.

Beck:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). You got to be in shape for this.

Julia:

You get used to it. It’s a certain metabolism for news is, and it’s very … I used to work at a magazine. I used to work at Fortune Magazine, and it’s totally different than there, where you can … you’re looking ahead months and months. Now, I’ll work on stories that are not going to go on TV for a month, but it’s more about keeping an eye on things and knowing that no matter what I plan, no matter what I plan the day of the story, if something changes, I’m going to have to be able to figure out how to pivot it.

Beck:

Yes. Wow.

________

Julia is not alone in her concerns for the future of the various types of journalism. See what three journalists from NBC News, Fortune Magazine, and Digital Trends had to say about local journalism in our article, 3 Journalists on the Fate of Local Journalism

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Mathew Cruz

Mathew started at OnePitch in January of 2020 as a Marketing Apprentice. He currently serves as the SEO & Content Marketing Specialist handling content creation from social media to the OnePitch blog. Mathew studied Integrated Marketing Communications at San Diego State University. In his free time, he loves creating art, visiting museums, and traveling.

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