Mathisen talks “Nightly Business Report”

by
Tyler Mathison and Susie Gharib

Tyler Mathisen co-anchors CNBC‘s “Power Lunch” and is vice president for strategic editorial initiatives working closely with CNBC’s business development and marketing teams on strategic initiatives and alliances.

Mathisen also co-anchors “Nightly Business Report produced by CNBC,” an award-winning evening business news program for U.S. public television that CNBC acquired earlier this year.

Previously, Mathisen was managing editor of CNBC Business News responsible for directing the network’s daily content and coverage. Mathisen also hosted CNBC’s “High Net Worth.”

Prior to this, Mathisen was co-anchor of CNBC’s “Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo” and “Tyler Mathisen.”

Mathisen has reported one-hour documentaries for the network including “Best Buy: The Big Box Fights Back” and “Supermarkets Inc: Inside a $500 Billion Money Machine.” Mathisen is also the host of the CNBC series “How I Made My Millions.”

Before joining CNBC in 1997, Mathisen spent 15 years as a writer, senior editor and top editor at Money magazine. Among other duties, he supervised the magazine’s mutual funds coverage, its annual investment forecast issue and its expansion into electronic journalism, for which it won the first-ever National Magazine Award for New Media in 1997.

He spoke earlier this week by email with Talking Biz News about “Nightly Business Report.” What follows is an edited transcript.

What attracted you to the “Nightly Business Report” opportunity?

“Nightly Business Report” (NBR) is the longest-running, most carried business news television program with an established, very loyal and sophisticated national audience. And, relatively little of that audience spends a lot of time watching CNBC during the day. So, the chance to speak to a new, large group of viewers was very appealing to me, and to all of us at CNBC.

NBR is a great addition to CNBC’s already diverse multi-media offerings which include cable programming, a full suite of digital products, radio, and our international networks and local language affiliates. This is a great opportunity for CNBC to expose its brand and editorial capabilities to a new, national audience. CNBC wants to be where the business audience is and CNBC wasn’t on terrestrial television.

How is it different from what you were doing for CNBC?

During the day, CNBC reports on the “game” in real time, as it is happening in the markets.

At the end of the day, NBR can step back, make editorial choices about what to put in and leave out, and, create a thoughtful narrative about the day and the current state of the economy. During the day, there’s more of a breezy, spontaneous, as-it’s-happening feel to what I do on CNBC. In the evening, it’s a little more structured, a little more oriented to nuanced storytelling and interviewing.

What do you think CNBC brings to “Nightly Business Report” that it previously didn’t have?

CNBC’s vast global editorial resources and depth. CNBC has bureaus and affiliates around the world. NBR didn’t have that. We’ve got the depth and financial strength to send reporters to where the news is happening, whether in China, Cyprus or Moline, Ill. That’s a real advantage that I think will reveal itself more and more to viewers over time. We also have reporters who cover specific beats. Not that the prior NBR didn’t effectively have that, but we have more reporters concentrating on more individual subject areas and companies – banking, retail, M&A, etc.

How are the audiences different for CNBC and NBR? Do you adjust your coverage due to that?

NBR has a broad audience comprised mostly of at-home viewers. CNBC has many at-home viewers, but has a sizeable amount of out-of-home viewing in offices, on trading floors, in gyms, hotels, etc. Both are highly-educated and more affluent than the average.

But, the broadcast audience is less interested in trading, in market minutiae, in the “inside baseball” of the markets and the exchanges. It is no less interested in making money, but it is less interested, I believe, in trading stocks than in investing in them for the long haul.

What type of stories does the Nightly Business Report viewer want?

They want stories, I believe, that educate, enlighten, inform and, from time to time, hopefully entertain.

How do you work with Susie during the day to prepare for each show?

We have two editorial meetings where Susie, the production team and I bat around story ideas, find out what CNBC’s news team is working on and then devise a skeleton for the show. The first meeting is in the morning, at 10 a.m. The second is at 3:15 p.m. and is really just a reality check to make sure that what we thought was smart at 10 still is at 3:15. So Susie and I always help shape the day’s agenda, and sometimes we drive it.

What else is involved in putting the show together each night?

We work closely with the CNBC news desk to arrange for reporters, video feeds, remote shots and more. This way, the program has a high-production feel and is as compelling and visually stimulating as possible.

With just 30 minutes, how do you pick the important business and economic stories of the day?

Most of the people involved in the program have been working in business news for a long time. I’ve been in the game for 31 years, for instance. So we collectively know what’s important and what’s not. Deciding what to leave out is, if anything, more important than deciding what to put in (just as it is in most TV news production). Some days it’s pretty obvious what needs to be included; other days, you have to be more creative or choosy.

Where do you see room for improvement in the show?

I think we can eventually make even more use of our worldwide CNBC resources and begin to weave in contributions from other parts of NBC News, The Weather Channel, NBC Sports, etc. We haven’t begun to scratch the surface there yet.

What’s been the biggest surprise so far in working on the show?

Perhaps the most surprising was to find out how loyal the viewers are and how passionate and connected they are to the broadcast. Many of the viewers have been watching it, if not for all 32 seasons, for years and years. They have a real history with the program and its people. It runs deep with them. It’s a habit, and we’ve tried to be respectful of the legacy bond the program has with its viewers while strengthening and evolving the program by drawing upon CNBC’s vast global editorial resources.