Meg Tirrell joined CNBC last April as a general assignment reporter focusing on biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. Roughly six months later, the Ebola crisis has turned her beat into must-watch television. Tirrell started at Bloomberg News where made a name for herself by breaking stories on the pharma beat.
Tirrell spoke with TVNewser about a variety of topics including how the media has covered Ebola and her a capella group. Seriously, she’s in an a capella group.
TVNewser: You joined CNBC about six months ago. What’s been the biggest surprise so far?
Tirrell: Taking the question literally, my biggest surprise probably was when our 5pm show, “Fast Money,” asked me to do a segment on the drug Cialis (which is for, er… men’s health), and then I walked on set to find that I was going to be doing the segment side by side… with Regis Philbin. We made it a commendable 90 seconds without cracking up, and it was amazing.
Taking the question more seriously, I think one of the biggest surprises has been just how small the organization is, for such a big enterprise. Everyone owns their beat and has a seat at the table, which is awesome.
TVNewser: How/why did you get into the biotech and pharmaceutical field?
Tirrell: I come from a family of scientists, so it’s a natural fit, but I had a little bit of a circuitous path here. I initially planned to be an arts critic, but then stumbled on business reporting because of a wonderful adviser in grad school at Northwestern. Then at Bloomberg News I was offered a spot on the health team covering pharmaceuticals and biotech, and it stuck. I love how human the stories on this beat are, and how important medicine is to people’s lives. And it certainly doesn’t hurt having a phone full of chemists and biochemists to call with the silly questions I’m too embarrassed to ask people I’m not related to.
TVNewser: Shepard Smith, among others, recently criticized the media for “irresponsible” reporting on Ebola. What is your opinion of the coverage Ebola has received?