Uh oh. Looks like WallStreetFighter was again given an all-access pass to the inner workings of a financial media outlet. When will these guys learn? Last time we chilled with Nicole Petallides on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, and this time we hung out with Fox Business Network anchor Jenna Lee on the set of the network’s brand spankin’ new studio.
You may remember Jenna from previous Wall Street Fighter posts last year when we were all practically in love with her. But today with our serious reporter/blogger hat on, we asked some tough questions about all her Twitter ‘hate’ for co-anchor Connell McShane, what it’s like to be the older sister to a University of Nebraska starting QB, which rival financial media personalities she hates (OK fine, she doesn’t really hate anyone), what it’s like trying to break stories live on-air, does she really have “shiksappeal?”, and why she kicks so much ass…
WSF: Hey Jenna, how’s it going?
Jenna Lee: It’s going good, how was your workday?
WSF: Pretty good, today was a long one. I don’t know how you do it though. You start at 3am every day and you’re still kicking around at 6pm each night? Are you nocturnal or something?
J: Actually, I get up at 2am, so I get in around 2:30am. It’s difficult some days. My workday ends at 3pm in the office and then I come home. Take a couple of hours in the afternoon to get to the gym, go grocery shopping, do life things. Then around 7pm or so, I’ll start reading up for the next day because news breaks all the time. I need to get an idea of what’s going on so I’m not surprised by anything the next morning.
WSF: Have you faced any major criticism as a young attractive woman on a new national business news network?
J: There have been some things I’ve had to handle on each one of those aspects of my job. In one respect I’m young and don’t have a full resume because this is where I am building my resume. Then there’s me being in a place where business news is not established and we’re trying to find our own voice.
WSF: Are you friendly with any of the news personalities on other networks? Have they ever reached out to you?
As far as interacting with other networks and other personalities? No. I think a lot of it is because of my hours more than anything else. I don’t get to go to a lot of big industry events.
With regard to the women personalities on other networks like Bloomberg and CNBC, I’m so thankful that they were there and doing those jobs. Without them I would never have had the opportunities I do.
But at the end of the day, you are competing with these people. So that type of friendship doesn’t really happen.
It’s not necessarily that all the women hate each other. It’s sometimes portrayed that way. It happens much less on the business networks though.
WSF: So have you seen some of our previous Wall Street Fighter posts about you. Do you ever read stuff like that?
J: Of course I did! I always have to do a little research on what’s being said about me. One of my friends had sent me the “Shiksappeal" one.
WSF: This is kind of backwards, but when I was doing some research prior to this interview I saw that some of our WallStreetFighter posts about you were showing up at the top of Google searches for your name. And even in your Wikipedia page. I thought, “oh man…”
J: Haha, yeah. Who knew you guys were so engrained in my life?
WSF: Just good search engine optimization, I guess. I don’t think we were that bad though, were we?
J: Are you kidding? You guys were fine! I would be lying if I said I didn’t Google to see what popped up. If you’re new in the industry and you’re talking to public relations people that don’t know anything about you, be sure to know what pops up first. Some of that other stuff that pops up is total crazy talk. Some of it is harsh and some of it is just not fair. But it’s on the Internet, so there’s not much you can do about it.
WSF: I’m glad you like our stuff. We actually like you and we’re big fans. You seemed like a cool person to talk to. And that’s not really something that can be said about everyone that’s out there on business networks these days.
J: I really appreciate that.
WSF: Go through the process when you’re on the air, how do you break news? Is someone in your ear with the latest quarterly earnings calls every 5 minutes?
J: We have Thompson financial system, which gives us the breaking wires on the screen. That’s one of the screens I have on my laptop at my desk on-air. Just today, I was talking over an oil board, trying to wrap up and waste some time. Someone buzzed in my ear saying “Suntrust” and I’ll just look down and check for the red on the screen. There’ll be a million wires going by at the same time. You just hope you click on a good wire report that you can read as much good information right away on the air. Immediately I’ll know the earnings estimate and the revenue.
Then as the numbers are crossing you can catch what you can and try and get it out. As far as them getting in your ear, they don’t really bother you at that point because they know you’re trying to work through what you’re seeing. Hopefully you can give the analysis and a comparison right away. Get a look at a stock chart, give a 4 and a 52 week perspective.
Is it a beat, is it a miss? Then I can fill some time with a guest and take a quick look at the press release, usually by the second paragraph, the CEO is making a comment and that adds a little bit of color.
It’s a rush. You’re flipping between screens, reviewing some numbers, offering the perspective. You’re making sure that you keep the conversation moving. People don’t want to hear what you have to say, so just get the basic information out. They want to hear what actual people with skin in the game are commenting on.
WSF: You have a pretty cruel setup on your Twitter page. You follow 21 people, and as you know twitter only displays 20 followers at a time, so that one extra layover on the final page is your co-anchor Connell. He looks kind of depressed over there by himself.
J: Haha, that’s so funny! I had no idea I was doing that, but that’s awesome. Definitely going to be leaving him there on a page by himself.
Here’s the drama with twitter. Connell is really into technology stuff and has been on Twitter and Facebook a lot longer than me.
But you can go ahead and say I put Connell on that second page on purpose, but it wasn’t intentional.
WSF: I will go ahead and keep thinking that.
J: I think I need to expand my horizons of some of the people I am following. I’m not following many.
WSF: I think you’ve got a really solid list. You’ve got The Economist; you’ve got Jalopnik, Paul Krugman, Peter Schiff. A wide range of sources.
J: I think I need more people from Congress. I find them pretty entertaining on Twitter.
WSF: So, I heard your brother is going to be the starting quarterback at the University of Nebraska this fall, is that true?
J: Yup. That’s my little brother.
WSF: And of course, your Dad was an NFL QB in the late 60s and 70s for the Vikings and a few other teams. What’s it like having so much football in the family?
J: It’s interesting. People see my little bro and say oh wow, he’s going to be the starting QB at Nebraska but what they don’t know is that he worked through a junior college. He grayshirted at a junior college, he got injured in his championship game for the state of California and he got recruited a lot of different places, ended up in Nebraska, and then redshirted. It’s been a long road to get where he is. Same with my dad.
He played in the NFL, but he wore #19 because he was drafted so late. Then he worked his way up from a punter and eventually took snaps as a starting QB in the Super Bowl. He played in 3 Super Bowls total. That’s crazy.
And now for me it’s just as crazy to even be talking about my career too. You know, I got into Columbia University, footed the bill myself. Which I’ll still be paying back for a while. And do you want to know what my first job out of Columbia was? I was filing at an office in Rockefeller Center for almost a year. At the same time I was working on some freelancing at local NY 1 News, where I could go out and shoot stories and write for them and edit stories. But they wouldn’t let me be on the air. Then after thinking it just wasn’t going to work out, I wound up anchoring a show on Fox Business. I’m really close to all that. I’m not too far away from when I was a personal assistant going on coffee and cappuccino runs. By the way, the security guards from Rockefeller Center still remember me from that. It’s hysterical, because they say stuff like “Look at you now!”
WSF: Where do you see your career going in the future?
J: I love anchoring an international markets show that’s really hard news and a little bit of fun. Because I know how it feels to feel completely clueless listening and reading business news. It’s all stuff I had to learn over time. I enjoy the fact that I can make it less intimidating and more applicable to people’s lives.
A couple of shots of Fox Business’ new studio during the week of its premiere April 20th. Check out the killer ‘stache on that tech guy:
Outside view of Fox Business’ new studio (top windows). Apparently there’s a Charles Schwab downstairs. How convenient.
Jenna Lee (left) and Alexis Glick (right) during a commercial break on Money For Breakfast.
Connell McShane is exiled to his secluded penthouse suite overlooking the ladies.
For some reason, a Ninja Turtle was being prepped for an interview just as a I left.
A photo of Jenna from a feature story in Best Life magazine.
Jenna at the Fox Business Network Launch Party in the Fall of 2007.