Does the thought of numbers and financial markets scare you? Ryerson journalism student Haaruun Dhubat interviewed Amanda Lang, of the Lang and O’Leary Exchange, on how she got into the field without a business degree and succeeded.

Does the thought of numbers and financial markets scare you? Ryerson journalism student Haaruun Dhubat interviewed Amanda Lang, of the Lang and O’Leary Exchange, on how she got into the field without a business degree and succeeded.

J-Source: How did you get your start as a financial journalist?

 

Amanda Lang: I got in a little bit by accident. I was trained as an architect, but knew when I graduated that I shouldn’t be an architect, and the job I took to pay the bills was at The Globe and Mail. It was not a journalism job, but in the building. I started pitching freelance articles to the editors, they soon began publishing my articles and things flowed from there.                        

J-Source: After The Globe and Mail, you moved to New York to work for the National Post and then CNN. What is it like reporting about business and finance across the border?

AL: It was pretty incredible to report in New York on capital markets because it is the financial capital of the world. I was there at a pretty fascinating time as well, from 1998 to 2002, and in that time we saw the Asian Credit crisis, tech bubble and the eventual bust and 9/11 … all significant events with a significant impact on financial markets.

J-Source: Was there a difference reporting on capital markets in the United States and Canada?

AL: There is no real difference between reporting for an American network and Canadian network. They run the same way and you have relatively the same number of people doing the same things. I also happened to be at CNN at a more innocent age … before the cult of celebrity for on-air personalities.


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J-Source: Business journalism isn’t very popular among students. What advice do you have for students who are reluctant to enter your field?

AL: Don’t be afraid of it. It’s a wonderful field. Everyone knows we need to understand capital markets, the economy and our own finances. Things like the credit crisis came like a tsunami to a lot of individuals who thought this was boring stuff. It looks boring but it’s actually fascinating.

J-Source: What are some of those fascinating things?

AL: Well, just for instance, you can hand me Coca-Cola’s balance sheet and there are stories there. You can look at the numbers and you can ask, why did the liabilities go up? Or, why are they taking on debt? For a business reporter, it’s like a treasure hunt; you can see a clue and you can follow it. And the thing I learned really early is even though I wasn’t trained as an economist or an accountant, you don’t have to be afraid of the numbers. The numbers aren’t that complicated if you simplify them the way you need to, and the audience doesn’t want the complicated details either.

J-Source: Has reporting on the world of finance made you a more sophisticated investor?

AL: Not a better one, but it has made me a more empowered one. The reason why many people don’t take control of their personal finances is they are afraid of it or they aren’t sure they can understand it, so they hand it over to someone else or do nothing, which is even worse. Knowing it’s not frightening stuff allows you to educate yourself to be in control, and that’s key.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

 

Haaruun Dhubat is a third-year journalism student at Ryerson University.

 

 

 


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