Featured Member: Niala Boodhoo

By on June 18, 2012

Current Location : Chicago, Ill.
Current Gig: Reporter at WBEZ/Chicago Public Media
Quick and Dirty Resume: Former wire/print reporter turned multimedia; now working in public radio. I’ve worked in London, Washington, Miami and now Chicago, most of my reporting focusing on business or the economy.
Six-word memoir: Itinerant storyteller; baker; aspiring tennis superstar.
Favorite fictional character: Kermit the Frog
Favorite tech tool? Google Docs

What happens during your average day?

If there isn’t breaking news, I’m working on a feature story, so could be prepping for interviews, out in the field, back in the office logging tape or preparing to be on one our live shows.

Why did you choose to get involved with online media?

I’m not sure it was ever a conscious choice. Online is where communications/information flows went and our job is to be in the middle of that.

Business reporting is one of the few sectors that is currently growing. What’s your advice for young journalists entering the field and for mid-career journalists looking to change gears?

I’ve always been grateful to have business reporting skills. Having any additional skills always make you a more valuable worker and that’s particularly so for specialized beats. I would say that most of my business reporting career has been based on on-the-job training; you can always learn about a beat, even if it’s the economy, by covering it. I think there are great resources out there to learn more about covering business journalism, whether that’s the Reynolds Center which does great in-person and online training (including handy resource guides by topic), or through The Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW). Obviously, anything at the intersection of personal finance and real estate — especially in terms of foreclosures, short sales and credit, or employment, especially how people are adding skills or retraining in order to get work — is really important right now.

A lot of news outlets struggle with covering the smaller communities that are parts of a metropolis. What did you learn from covering communities like Little Haiti?

As a journalist I’ve always felt it vital to report on communities that often get overlooked. I think my experience as a first-generation American and my time living outside the U.S. (in the United Kingdom and in Haiti) really helped shape my perspective, both in terms of understanding more about how immigrants or people of color live in the United States and the global nature of how many Americans live today. When you’re covering especially ethnic neighborhoods it helps to speak the language, literally, or at least know enough of the culture in order to connect with people.

What kind of work goes into producing a weekly web show?

A lot! It seems like it doesn’t matter how short the show is. You need to be able to book guests, do pre-interview prep, conduct the interview — which was my job. Then there were the folks who did all the recording and studio work, as well as post-production; and then of course the web production, once the show was done.

If you had a million dollars dedicated to improving media, you would …

… use it to establish “innovation” or “R & D” funds for public radio stations across the country.