In conversation with… Callum Borchers of WSJ


By Tanya Carlsson

Workplace trends have dominated headlines since the start of the pandemic, when much of the workforce went remote or hybrid nearly overnight. And at the forefront of those conversations is Callum Borchers, the On The Clock columnist at the Wall Street Journal, covering people’s careers and work lives.

Previously, Callum was a correspondent at public radio station WBUR, where he covered business and politics and often hosted NPR’s national midday show, “Here & Now.” Callum also has been a staff writer at the Washington Post and Boston Globe. He is an adjunct professor of journalism at Northeastern University.

I recently sat down with Callum to learn more about the challenges and rewards of his job, the must-haves for a good story, and more. 

How do you begin your workday? 
I usually begin my workday with emails, especially when making interview requests. I try to land in people’s inboxes early in the day. A late-afternoon inquiry is liable to get buried until the next day.

Of all the stories you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why? 
A favorite column appeared under the headline “When It’s Time to Pull a Prince Harry and Burn That Bridge.” I like this piece for two reasons. It felt distinctive at a time when there were countless stories about Harry’s memoir, “Spare.” Standing out is a perpetual challenge for journalists. I also savored emails from readers who said that they read the headline and knew the article must be mine, even before seeing the byline. This column ran around the one-year anniversary of launching “On the Clock.” It was gratifying to hear that the column has developed a recognizable voice for some readers.

What are the must-have ingredients for a solid story? 
A solid “On the Clock” column needs compelling anecdotes and evidence that they represent something of broader significance. Data alone can be dry, and an interesting tale doesn’t mean much if it’s an outlier. 

What is the most challenging part of your job? And the most rewarding? 
The biggest challenge and biggest reward are the same: making people feel comfortable enough to share things about themselves and their careers that they seldom discuss.

What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you? 
People who have read me in The Wall Street Journal or heard me host news shows on NPR might be surprised to learn that I originally planned to become a sportscaster. I started covering hard news at my college TV station just to get more practice. I liked it more than I expected.

To read Callum’s column, please visit or follow him on Twitter @callumborchers