Sunday, 9 May 2010

From behind the door: The interminable art of trying

Well the morning started off abysmally - late as usual with nary a cup of coffee in sight, and blood on Wall Street slicing the prospects of a straightforward dollar story thrown out the window as the third-quarter earnings of New Zealand's biggest phone company loomed large over me and the boss wasn't in yet and the other boss was in but not making coffee and once Telecom posted its result there wasn't time for me to pick it up because we hadn't had the conversation and it should've been a bit more organised, but that's the life of being behind the door in an office of three, soon to be four, maybe even more, but that's just mere speculation.

So I got through the usual malarkey of getting my soundbite from Mike, he's a good bloke, and my friend says he's very pleasant on the eye and she knows these things so I'll probably tell her to come along next time me and Mike meet up for a beer, though that's likely to be a long way off with the budget looming and other things on the go that I don't even know about yet, and now I'm way off topic so I should get back to finishing off my currency story 'cos it's already 9am and we're trying to get it out earlier and earlier and earlier and Jonathan's got the Telecom result and he's going to do a cheap and nasty version and later on in the day he says we should've sat down and discussed this and made sure that I'd picked it up 'cos I'd done a preview the afternoon before and Telecom's - and the wider telco sphere in general (though I can't call it the telco sphere 'cos Jon hates the word telco and he's the boss after all) - my baby and even though it was challenging at first, I do quite like writing about phone companies and broadband and mobile phones and all the stuff that seems to come in the telecommunications sector.

So I'd managed to encapsulate the cliff that Wall Street dived off after some guy's finger got a little itchy, then I read through Jon's write-through on Telecom and prepared to dial in for the conference - 40 minutes of which was the usual PR flackery that goes on and on and on and turns into a war of attrition until people can actually get an opportunity to ask these masters of the universe questions about the state of their business and what it actually means, and that if the level of disclosure across all the divisions of their company is so great why don't they answer questions when asked, rather than just fob it off as commercially sensitive information, and you know that while you might get something, someone else will use it, which is sometimes a blessing in disguise, 'cos sometimes after an hour and a quarter of listening to people more intelligent and knowledgeable than you, you really don't want to ask your questions because they've been answered in roundabout ways and they aren't really that interesting anyway and you've just taken up 2 minutes that someone else could've used, but instead you gave a nice soundbite to another guy but that's alright because you know that you secretly use their work to give yourself a decent background on the issue, and then you get off the conference and you realise that you don't really have a story, because the numbers were pretty bland, even if they did beat Guy's forecast slightly, and the XT report was pretty lame, even if it did call management immature, which the boss wanted in the write-through, so I had to go for a wander with the boss and try and get my head around what I was going to write about, then I talked to Alan, 'cos he's absolutely lovely and always gives you a good quote and tries to give you something even when there's nothing there, and so I came up with something, and eventually got the write-through, and then the stock price fell to a new low, and I'd already written the story, so I threw that at the top, and lo and behold, it made it to the usual suspects, and everything was alright, but two days on, I'm no wiser about what happened, and if anything, perhaps a little more confused - so until the next thing comes out, it's all business as usual.

And that's life from behind the door.


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