Phil Joens was one of the first influential reporters of the Missouri Business Alert team in 2013. Although he is no longer an employee here at MBA, his influence still remains today. We asked Phil a couple of questions regarding his time at MBA. See his answers below.
Why were you interested in working at MBA?
“I was forced to work at MBA for eight weeks as part of a business reporting class. That was half of our 16 week semester.”
What do you think MBA offers to the business community?
“The MU j-school has plenty of reporting options and ways for students to learn about different types of reporting. I think if you talk to professors like Randy Smith and Marty a Steffens though, they’d say that before the creation of MBA, there was never a single place where students could learn about writing about business.
The Missourian has a great program for guys like myself interested in sportswriting. KBIA has a sports best. All MU publications have general news beats that kind of touch in business. MBA puts it all in one place for students to focus on though.
Now, I’ll finally answer the question. Because MBA gives MU students a single place to focus on business reporting, it gives students a great read understanding of of what they’re writing about when they get entry level jobs. Newsrooms are trending younger and I see more young faces covering business all the time.
This is tough stuff to understand. MBA works as a lab for students and newsrooms to try things. I wrote my first long-form piece at MBA. I experimented with Instagram videos. We tried the MBA “Weekly Wrap” concept, which proved to be much harder to film each week than we anticipated. We had other things we tried. Som worked. Some didn’t. Even its concept as a statewide news source instead of a local or national news source is very experimental. MBA is a great lab to try these things for the rest of the biz journalism community. ”
What skills did you learn at MBA that you still use in your daily career and/or helped you advance your career?
“When I was a kid I said I wanted to be a sportswriter. After I started working at MBA, I wanted to be a business journalist. Later, I simply wanted to just be a reporter who covers sports. Now, again, I simply want to be a reporter who covers business, or government or city hall or healthcare or science or technology.
MBA opened the door for me to general news. Like I said, I grew up wanting to be a sports reporter. I dreamed about it probably every day of high school. It’s why I ended up at MU and eventually at MBA. Working MBA showed me how important news felt. It certainly wasn’t the only influence on my transition from sports to news, but it played a big role.
In late 2013 I remember writing about an Energizer battery plant in Maryville that was closing. I wrote the pice for MBA in conjunction with a separate class I was in. The piece took two months to write, which was a month or more longer than it should’ve taken. Still, despite my missteps it stoked a love of longform writing and investigative reporting.
A laid off worked woke me up one morning at 7:15 a.m. and I talked to him for two hours. I remember it was like therapy for him. We talked twice more for two more hours total. It was then that I learned how well you can get to know someone quickly as a reporter.
MBA also introduced me to political reporting. In 2014 I covered the Mo General Assembley Veto Session for MBA. I worked 14 hours I think. Wait, 16 hours. The session started at noon on Sept. 10 I think and I turned my final story in at 8 a.m. Sept. 11. The House was in session until 3 a.m. and stopped to say a prayer when the clock hit midnight to remember the 9/11 victims. I interviewed my first legislators there.
The skills I learned that day are invaluable. I love covering politics and politics and bills being debated by Congress or the Mo General Assembly or the California State Assembly have come up a lot on my beats.
I learned other smaller things though. I refined my daily reporting skills by cranking out stories about conferences and events I covered. I learned how to curate things and manage social media accounts. All of that I still use daily.”
What is your favorite memory of working at MBA?
“Probably covering the 2014 veto session. That was amazing.
Also, hanging out with Michael Stacy in the office. The biggest thing I learned at MBA is that honey tastes great on pizza crust.”
Now that MBA is 5 years old and still progressing every day, what do you hope to see for the future of MBA?
“It’s a great place to learn. I hope it continues to be. It’d be nice to see the staff get out beyond Columbia a little more, but I know that has its limitations. I think there help achieve its statewide mission though.”
Thank you again, Phil, for your contributions to MBA. You’ve helped us become the reliable business outlet that we are today.
If you’d like to contact Phil you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/philip-joens-39270b53/.