Telum Talks To... Peter Chou, Director of Business and Finance Department, The Storm Media

Telum Talks To... Peter Chou, Director of Business and Finance Department, The Storm Media

"For me, the best recipe for becoming a good journalist is to treat every lead equally and to stay curious all the time," said Peter Chou, Director of Business and Finance desk at The Storm Media.

Can you share a bit about your team's daily routine?
We have a small but decent team. Apart from doing interviews and writing stories, we also edit columns provided by experts. But with a small team, we are all involved with managing the Facebook page and mobile app, other than dealing with other departments of the organisation. Like all journalists, our scope of work has indeed evolved with the rise of social media. One of our priorities is to constantly better our understanding of the audience and provide them with relevant content. 

What is your target readership? What is your recent editorial focus?
Our channel “Moonlight Economy” focuses on offering important financial information and investment-related knowledge to our audience. We have readers coming from across Taiwan and most of them are white-collar workers aged from 35 to 44. They are the pillars of our society and they are always hungry for practical financial advice. They are also growingly concerned about their own health apart from their career development. These are some of the things we have covered more extensively in recent years. Electric vehicles and sustainability are other hot topics. 

You have won many financial news awards. What's the trick? What makes a good financial news story?
I do like competition and it means a lot for any financial journalist to receive recognition. I was particularly grateful to have competed with the top talents in the region and won an award in Hong Kong, Asia’s financial hub.

For me, the best recipe for becoming a good journalist is really still to treat every lead equally and to stay curious all the time. I still remember being hesitant about a story idea my boss gave me. My boss got mad at me and of course I ended up doing it. That eventually became a story with which I won my first major award. This experience taught me how not to underestimate a story idea. No story is too small.

What is also important is to find out what you are good at and keep doing it. I was about to board a flight to Hong Kong for a business trip when I heard about a major M&A deal. I couldn’t wait to do a story on it as I had been following the companies for a couple of years. So I did all my research and identified the people to contact on the flight, and got straight to work after landing. I ended up writing the story with my phone in the immigration hall. It took me two hours, but the story – about Alibaba acquiring Sun Art from Ruentex - brought me another award.

Great question about what makes a financial story. Honestly, it’s not much different from writing any kind of story. It does take time to find a good angle, but once you have got it, do verify all the facts and write it in an engaging way. But for financial news, in particular, using data accurately is of paramount importance. It’s vital for financial journalists to get a good sense of how to read and interpret data and to understand what it means when the numbers change.

Cryptocurrency is a hot topic these days. What do you make of it?
When sovereign countries are printing more money and trying to rescue the market with liquidity, it is natural for the virtual money market to blossom. This is perhaps a counter-response from the market because of the weakening purchasing power arising from inflation.

As I have covered the equity market for some time, the market's volatility is nothing new to me. Stock prices move up or down, and there is always going to be people buying and selling. The least we want is government intervention, but the authorities seem to be increasingly involved with regulating how cryptocurrency should develop, and such interference is worrying. The securities market has a long history, and the government's supervisory role is expected from the issuance stage to trading and corporate governance. There is nothing wrong with providing a level playing field and strengthening the protection of investors. But as the cryptocurrency market is still in its nascent stage,  it’s best if the government would not suppress its development.

Any tips for Financial PRs who want to cooperate? What kind of press invitations grab your attention?
The financial PRs I have worked with are all professional, to-the-point and hard-working. But I do hope to cover more human-interest stories coming out of the financial field as they are often more interesting than the products and events our public relations friends try to promote. I pass those leads to my colleagues, but the stories are often turned down by companies who have rules against promoting individuals or may not like to be exposed.

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  • Chi Yuan Chou
  • The Storm Media
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