Bloomberg’s Women Behind the News: Mindy Massucci
April 16, 2013 — Bloomberg’s head of television production, Mindy Massucci, talks with reporter Meg Tirrell about producing 24 hours a day of live television.
Mindy Massucci was riding in an SUV that crashed during her first big assignment for Fox News Channel. She hopped out of the car and ran five blocks to the New York Stock Exchange to deliver interview tapes. It was the day in 1998 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit 9,000 for the first time — and the day Massucci, an intern, got hooked on business television.
Now, she manages 154 people as head of operations for Bloomberg Television, which produces 24 hours every weekday of live TV out of New York, Washington, San Francisco, London and Hong Kong. Massucci previously worked for ten years on the Bloomberg TV assignment desk and served as BTV’s head of field production. “The assignment desk controls everything,” Massucci says. “It broke me in, big-time.”
Massucci has a degree in broadcast journalism from East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. The business appealed to her, she says, because she has a short attention span and runs on adrenaline. She has staked out celebrities, hunted down CEOs and staved off exhaustion on the 5 a.m. shift. She’s still banned from the Chrysler building in Midtown Manhattan, she says, after once shimmying out on one of the skyscraper’s decorative eagles to get a shot.
Now with a three-year-old daughter and five-year-old son, Massucci says parenthood has made her better at her job, and that her job makes her a better mom. A supportive environment in the workplace is a crucial for women, she says.
Massucci talked with Meg Tirrell, a New York-based reporter on Bloomberg News’s health and science team. Tirrell joined Bloomberg in 2007 and covers the biotechnology industry. She got a Master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University after graduating from Wellesley College with degrees in English and music.
Tirrell: Bloomberg Television is a global enterprise. How does it compare across different markets?
Massucci: In the U.S., we focus on the opening and closing bells, and the shows ‘In the Loop’ and ‘Street Smart’ support the lead up and the close of the markets. They’re very dynamic. Another U.S.-based show we’ve really identified as a brand is ‘Bloomberg West,’ and we’ve added a second hour of it. We get feedback that there’s nothing else like it — nothing that focuses on Silicon Valley and on innovation and technology.
There’s a niche audience that’s widespread throughout Europe and Asia that craves international perspective on what’s happening in business and economies. We talk about multiple economies, and it does very, very well too.
Tirrell: How does the global perspective play into operations at Bloomberg TV?
Massucci: We support one another around the world, especially since we have centralized global control operations out of New York. Things that we didn’t care so much about in the past in the U.S. — like, say, European Central Bank meetings — are now important to us here because we need to support covering them. We have to think about investors, no matter where they are.
Tirrell: Who is Bloomberg Television’s biggest competitor?
Massucci: It’s everybody who does what we do. It’s The Wall Street Journal, it’s the FT, it’s CNBC, it’s CNN. There are a lot of ways that you can ingest news out there, with mobile apps and digital as well, and we have to be very cognizant of that and always be one step ahead.
Tirrell: How do you convince interview subjects to come on Bloomberg Television?
Massucci: The only way you’re going to make a real change is by putting out a better product. CEOs have limited time and they want to make sure they get the most bang for the buck. We explain that if you want your stock to react or if you want the people that are actually going to have an impact on your business to listen, you need to come on Bloomberg Television.
Tirrell: How has Bloomberg News’s women’s initiative played into television?
Massucci: Stephanie Ruhle, one of our newer anchors, is tenacious and involved in a lot of women’s programs and is very much a mentor in that perspective. It falls to people like myself, and Stephanie, Betty Liu, Trish Regan and other female anchors who have high-profile positions, to set an example.
Newsrooms in general have a tendency to create their own personality. They become their own entity, and it’s up to us to really help shape that organism, to make it a positive one.
Tirrell: What was your first job in the industry?
Massucci: I’ll never forget it. The head of the department at my school, Dr. David Campbell, pulled me into his office and took out a picture of the exterior of Fox News Channel. He put it down and goes, ‘You need to apply here.’ I said, ‘What’s that?’
He says, ‘Fox has started a 24/7 cable channel to compete with CNBC. Nobody’s ever heard of it, but you’re going to get the kind of experience that you could get at a CNN in New York City, and they’re just going to use you and abuse you and that’s what you want.’
I got the internship and worked with Lisa Castleman, a business reporter with Neil Cavuto. I was the kid that, when the day was done, I’d go to the assignment desk and say ‘What do you have for me?’
Tirrell: Now you oversee more than 150 people and you’re the mom of two young kids; how have you balanced family with work?
Massucci: When I was single and didn’t have any kids, there was a producer here who was pregnant and she was tired. She already had two small kids at home. And I remember saying to her, ‘I will happily stay here for you and do this.’ I thought, ‘There’s going to come a time when I’m going to be in her shoes, and I would hope that somebody would step in and be that person for me.’
As women, the only way we’re going to get ahead is if we support each other at every stage. I have to remember what it was like to be 20-something, and know what they are going through.
Tirrell: What has your experience been now that you’ve become a mom?
Massucci: My first pregnancy was tough because I was tired, I didn’t know what to expect, and I was so used to working long days. I thought I wasn’t going to let it stop me at all.
But it was couple of the dads in the office who said, ‘You have to understand you can’t do it all. But you can do some things really, really well. Focus on those.’
Tirrell: So you became more efficient?
Massucci: I definitely became more efficient. It’s funny because my job makes me a great mother. And being a mom has made me better at my job. It’s about organization, and it’s about people skills.
People say ‘Oh, your life is so chaotic.’ I don’t look at it as chaotic. Life for anybody is chaotic. It’s just how you handle it.
Photos by Lori Hoffman, Bloomberg