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Posted on 10.27.2010
MEDIA MATTERS: Advice from World-Class Journalists and Intriguing Media Minds
Monthly Q&A by Paula Lovell
Kelly Greene covers retirement planning and living as a staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal and writes a bi-weekly column, “Family Value,” focused on intergenerational financial issues. She is co-author of, "
The Wall Street Journal Complete Retirement Guidebook: How to Plan It, Live It and Enjoy It," which is a
New York Times Bestseller.
In 2005, she was honored with the American Society on Aging’s National Media Award for her body of work. In 2007, she received a New York Association of Black Journalists award for her coverage of African-American police retirees’ efforts to get the same pensions as their white colleagues.
Kelly, despite the fact that you’ve been a reporter since 1991, you must be one of the world’s youngest beat reporters on the subject of retirement. Are there really any new trends out there about what people want to do in their retirement and how to plan for it?
Yes, there are new trends all the time. It’s a fascinating beat that just gets better every year. The biggest challenge in our retirement coverage is making it sophisticated enough for our readers. They’re smart, and are partial do-it-yourselfers or, at least, are keeping close tabs on their financial planners. Many of them are exploring interesting things to do with newfound time during retirement, so we search out legitimate trends, information on how economic developments are impacting retirees and affecting their plans. Recently we’ve been reporting on a growing number of people who want to utilize their career skills in some meaningful way and get paid for the work at the same time that it’s getting tougher for everybody, including older workers, to hang onto their jobs. CEOs working for not-for-profit organization or as social workers; journalists learning to be grant writers; HR executives learning how to back up high-school guidance counselors.
How do you ferret out those new trends? Are you receptive to pitches from PR people?
We often learn about new trends through interaction with our readers. I’m open to talking to anybody, but I get a lot of email pitches that start by saying there are 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964. We already know that. My advice is…get right to the point. What’s the trend? What’s the new strategy for managing finances, health or time in retirement?
What advice would you give to a young reporter in this changing industry?
I think there is incredible opportunity out there, but it still hinges on being able to write your way out of a paper bag. College students interested in journalism should expose themselves to every platform out there. I have to write scripts for video production, blog posts, all the rest. Learn to do it all because it’s all required in any good job now.
What is the purpose of the media?
The same as always…to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.