Catherine Ngai (MSJ11), a global scholarship recipient, is an energy markets reporter for Reuters in New York. Ngai, who studied economics for her undergraduate degree, reports on the U.S. crude oil markets. Her fascination with oil prices and cartels as an undergraduate economics student led to her interest in business reporting. She spent her global journalism residency in Dubai writing about the oil market.
Previously, Ngai spent nearly 3 years covering the metals industry for American Metal Market, a trade publication. "I write about some of the biggest private and public steel companies, digging into company financial data and interview top executives on supply-demand fundamentals and changes,” she said. “ I also write about trade policy and legislation on Capitol Hill affect the metals industry.”
A major benefit of working for a trade publication was the travelling, according to Ngai. During the year, she was on the road twice a month or so on trips all over the U.S. and globally.
“It’s quite an experience. Top places I’ve been include visiting the trading floor of the London Metals Exchange in London, attending a huge international steel conference in Shanghai and visiting a steel mill in Charlestown, S.C. ,” she said. “Before I started working at my current position, I didn’t think that reporters were able to travel anymore. But, putting a name to a face does make the source pick up the phone next time you call."
Ngai adds that while the travel was a nice perk, she relished having the freedom to break some really interesting stories and write about why it should matter. She said working at a niche publication taught her to become an expert in the field and understand all parts of the supply chain.
“Trade publishing pays better and is way more secure,” Ngai said. “While you’ll see traditional media companies shed jobs and downsize, we’ve been continuing to grow steadily. Our subscription rates are pretty high, but readers are willing to pay that extra dollar, or even hundreds , because it’s news that matters to them and it’s news that’s informed. There’s this perception that trade publications write ‘soft’ news and feature, feel-good items. But, that’s really not true. Instead, we have our ears closer to the ground, become topic experts and provide quality work that’s fair and newsworthy.”