A Q&A with Janet Hewitt.

AuthorHall, Lesley
PositionLOOKING BACK: 1939-2016

Janet Reilley Hewitt is Mortgage Banking's ninth and final editor, having overseen the magazine's content and direction for 28 years. It is only appropriate that, at last, the final issue of the magazine is where we're the one posing the probing questions.

Who are a couple of the most interesting people you've interviewed for Mortgage Banking or Real Estate Finance Today (REFT), where you worked first, since joining the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA)?


A: One of the more interesting interviews I did was with Fannie Mae Chairman Jim Johnson after he announced that he was retiring. What was most interesting about it was that I did the interview in his office at Fannie Mae on Wisconsin Ave. It was the setting that most struck me. It radiated the power he wielded as Fannie Mae chairman. The sheer number of people sitting outside his office was enormous--it was like the NASA Mission Control Center in Houston. He was extremely gracious and generous with his time. But I just could feel the power of the man and of Fannie Mae at the time.

Another time when I was struck by the power of the position someone held was when I interviewed HUD [Department of Housing and Urban Development] Secretary Mel Martinez. I kept thinking: This man meets with the president, but today he is meeting with me.

Q: How has your vision of the magazine's direction or mission changed from your very first issue to this final issue?

A: My vision of the magazine's mission has always been to keep the industry's practitioners aware of the challenges and headwinds that were coming their way. Most of the time they knew way better than I did. But sometimes we get too Washington-focused, and I always tried to avoid that if the challenges were more market-based. Like during the subprime crisis, the rating agencies and the mortgage insurers saw way more things coming well before any Washington-based regulators or politicians did.

But it's still fun to interview federal officials and lawmakers, and that part of the mission remains important. In the beginning, I brought more of a beat reporter's take on the content, but that's...

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