Romy Varghese covers finance and politics in Pennsylvania for Bloomberg News. She was part of a Dow Jones team of reporters that won a New York Press Club Journalism award in 2009 for their coverage of the collapse of Bear Stearns.
When did you know you wanted to be a reporter?
In high school, I decided: I’m either going to be a reporter or a scientist. I took a summer internship in a lab, and I realized I could satisfy my curiosity a lot more quickly as a reporter than as a scientist. … I try to take a scientific approach to my reporting: collecting evidence that supports a story idea.
What advice would you offer to young journalists?
Maintain your curiosity. Never rely on assumptions. When you’re a good reporter, you should be able to ask the right questions and not assume what someone is telling you is the truth. When I was in Allentown [at the Morning Call], I decided to do a story on a real estate developer who was always referred to as the “biggest property owner in Allentown.” When I looked up the records, he was nowhere near the biggest.
Without an economics background, how did you find your footing while covering corporate and municipal bonds?
I read what my colleagues and competitors wrote, and I found friendly sources who could explain things. Good reporters are only as good as their sources. It’s hard at first [to find sources], but it gets easier once you start writing regularly.
Why is media diversity important?
I’m a strong believer that newsrooms should be diverse but that doesn’t necessarily mean just ethnically, but also socioeconomically. That way, you make sure that news is reported by different perspectives. Having a diverse group of reporters is important because they spot things you might not have noticed before. When I was in Allentown, I noticed that many young Indian girls were doing this classical [coming-of-age] Indian dance, an arangetram. I learned that it had become a way for them to preserve their culture, and I did a story on it.
What do you like about your current position?
Right now I’m covering financial news and politics in Pennsylvania, and doing a lot on the distress in Harrisburg, which is a really interesting case of how local governments can get into trouble. I like the challenge of trying to take something complicated and make it easier to understand.
Learn more about other AAJA members profiled for AAPI Month.