30 Most Impactful TV Newsers of the Past 15 Years: Maria Bartiromo

By A.J. Katz 

To mark the 15th anniversary of TVNewser this month, Adweek honored the 30 Most Impactful TV Newsers of the Past 15 Years, spotlighting the personalities and execs who were instrumental in the industry’s incredible decade-and-a-half evolution. TVNewser will be presenting expanded versions of each honoree’s  interview.

Maria Bartiromo

  • Job title: Global markets editor at Fox Business Network, anchor of Mornings with Maria and Maria Bartiromo’s Wall Street; anchor of Sunday Morning Futures on Fox News.
  • 15 years ago: 15 years ago: In January 2004, when TVNewser launched, Bartiromo was the face of CNBC. She was anchor, Closing Bell, and anchor and managing editor, On the Money with Maria Bartiromo, on CNBC/syndication.

Adweek: What were you doing 15 years ago, in January 2004?

Maria Bartiromo: In 2004, I was, as I think we are were, sweeping up the downgraft of the dot-com bust. What I was thinking about was all these different cycles that we’ve witnessed, and that was one of the more important cycles, when we saw the boom in dot com companies and an enormous amount of capital funding those companies, where we threw out our normal metrics that we would look at companies, like earnings and revenue growth, and instead looked at hits to the website. So then, we saw the bust. I was covering that at the New York Stock Exchange at CNBC, and interviewing a lot of the entrepreneurs and startups. I think it’s really interesting to see what has gone away, but also stayed and thrived from that period, because you have companies like Pets.com as the face of the destruction of the bust, and then you have Amazon.com, which just recently hit a trillion dollars in valuation. It was an exciting time and another cycle in what has been a front row seat –certainly for me– in this last 25 years of movement for the economy, globally and the markets.

What’s your favorite professional moment of the past 15 years?

My favorite moment is when I threw the first pitch out at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees called at the beginning of the playoffs. They asked if I wanted to throw out the first pitch, and I said, “Yes, of course I want to throw out the first pitch!” I then said to myself, “Oh my god? I don’t play baseball. What do I do?” I went and I trained and I got my friend Dan to help me every weekend. We went to Arizona and trained there. We also went to Central Park and I pitched with my husband or with Dan. Then, I get to Yankee Stadium and I was so excited to be there. I got my hair done. Then [then-New York Yankees manager] Joe Torre came over and put a Yankees cap on my head, and I said “Oh, Mr. Torre, thank you so much but I just got my hair done…I’m going to wear the jersey instead.”

I get out to the mound. 60,000 fans. I’m in my home town. They announce my name.

I got it right over the plate, and it was amazing. One of the guys said: “Get her in the game!” Before I went out to the mound, I said to Dan: “What am I doing? I can’t even believe I’m here. I’m not a baseball player.”

“You are exactly where you’re supposed to be. Go do what you’re supposed to do,” he told me.

Obviously, that was the best moment of my career!

What has been your toughest professional challenge over the past 15 years?

I think a challenge for me has been a decision to work a lot and work hard. That creates an imbalance in terms of time for myself. But I love the content, and I love what I’m doing and I have been lucky enough to say that for my entire career. That I don’t want to lessen the load because I’m in it to win it, and in order to win it, it requires hard work. I guess for me, the toughest challenge has been never saying no.

Who have you learned the most from in your career?

I learned a lot from Jack Welch in terms of leadership. I remember taking leadership classes at GE, which at the time owned CNBC. I remember one class building essential leadership skills. It was really valuable. I learned a lot from Dick Grasso. I learned a lot from the sources and CEOs that I interviewed.

I learned a lot about television from Roger Ailes. My mother has been the biggest influence and continues to be on my life, but certainly there were business people as well as leaders in media that I watched and tried to emulate. Diane Sawyer. I always loved Diane Sawyer, as well as Barbara Walters. Barbara Walters is the ultimate pioneer.

I tried to emulate these women when I was given the chance to broadcast from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange for the first time.

Also CNN. I started my career at CNN. I was a writer and producer at CNN. At that time, we were doing something that no one else was doing, and that was covering news and information in real time. It was the first Gulf War. I remember as a production assistant, so young, and watching Bernard Shaw under the bed in Baghdad as bombs were going off. I learned how to cover an event live as it was happened, which in this case was the war, but later, a real education for me when I broadcast from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, and covered the market in real time.

So, I learned a lot from a lot of people in business as well as in television.

Which of your TV news competitors do you most admire?

I think many of my former colleagues at CNBC are among the people I admire.  Squawk Box is my chief competitor, and they’re tough competitors, as am I. I’m proud that there is still an area of the market that cares just about markets, and I have looked at a broadening portfolio because I think news has changed in terms of policy and its impact. So, I look at CNN regularly. I’m looking a lot of my colleagues online. I think there’s a rich group of reporters and anchors today and online reporters as well and commentators that are offering all sides of any particular subject.

I would also like to stress how impressed I am with all of my colleagues at Fox Business, particularly Dagen McDowell– who brings so much knowledge and savvy to the show every day, as well as Stuart Varney and Lou Dobbs, who incidentally I worked with so early in my career. I was a production assistant and a producer for Stuart Varney’s morning shows & Lou Dobbs’ Moneyline- among other programs on CNN. I am proud to be working with them once again. Additionally, Neil Cavuto who has been a pioneer, as has Melissa Francis– and so many others.

What do you know now about the business that you didn’t in January 2004?

For me personally, I certainly had watched my own portfolio grow. I feel that I’ve stretched myself in a lot of ways, whereas I was for a time being at CNBC for 20 years focused on the stock market and balance sheets and the corporate sector.

Heading over to Fox, I have been able to really study policy more than I ever thought I needed to or that I cared to. But I realize now, I don’t know it’s because I feel like things have changed making it more important today, or it’s just that it’s always been important but I really didn’t see a direct impact. Now, policy is impacting so much, whether it’s tax policy, immigration policy, healthcare; policies are really impacting new business, startups, dot-coms, and globalization. It was more about that, then it is today. I do understand better the relationship between markets, the economy and policy and I do see a deeper understanding of how Washington impacts people’s lives in a very direct way. So, it’s really fascinating actually.