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U.S. business journalists express confidence in journalism’s future

Almost two-thirds of business journalists report that the amount of business coverage at their organization has stayed the same or increased in the past five years, according to a new survey commissioned by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism. | Business Journalists Study 2010 (PDF)


The Business Journalists Study 2010 is a groundbreaking survey of 473 business reporters and editors nationwide.

“We talked with hundreds of print, online, wire, broadcast and freelance business journalists, and they expressed optimism about the future of journalism,” said Andrew Leckey, Reynolds Center president and Reynolds Endowed Chair in Business Journalism at the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

“I found a shocking amount of optimism, grit and determination in those findings,” said professor Tim McGuire, who retired in 2002 as editor of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. McGuire is the Frank Russell Chair for the Business of Journalism at ASU’s Cronkite School.

“I am convinced the Reynolds study is a seminal piece of work that should make the obituary writers for journalism pause and seriously reflect,” McGuire said.

Specifically, McGuire was surprised that almost a third reported an increase in pay over the past two years and that seven out of 10 business journalists say they are more or just as satisfied with their jobs as they were five years ago. Almost three-fourths plan to stay in journalism for the next five years.

McGuire goes into detail in a post on his blog, McGuire on Media, explaining why this survey is significant to journalism.

“What’s striking in the results is how much more negatively print journalists have been impacted compared with those from other media,” said Linda Austin, executive director of the Reynolds Center. Of the respondents, 139 came from wire services, 135 from print, 88 from broadcast, 67 from freelancing and 44 from online. At almost every experience level, print journalists made less money.

Overall, almost half say they have fewer opportunities for training. “I would urge them to check out the free regional workshops and online training offered by the Reynolds Center at BusinessJournalism.org,” Austin said.

THE FULL STUDY: Business Journalists Study 2010 (PDF)
Respondents averaged 20 years in journalism and 12.8 years as business journalists. They report many changes in their jobs in the past five years:

  • Six out of 10 are doing more or about the same level of investigative journalism.
  • Nine out of 10 have learned new skills.
  • Three-fourths say their workload has increased and they use social media.
  • About half blog, file first for the Web and cover more beats.

ABOUT THE SURVEY
Business Journalists Study 2010 was conducted by the Behavior Research Center Inc. in Phoenix.  The phone survey between April 19 and May 6 has a margin of error of +/-4.6 percent.

ABOUT THE REYNOLDS CENTER

The Reynolds Center is based at ASU. It is funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, which is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, it is one of the largest private foundations in the United States.

More than 10,000 journalists have benefited from the Reynolds Center’s free training since 2003. The center’s mission is to help journalists cover business better.

For more information about this report, e-mail Linda Austin, Reynolds Center executive director, or call 602-496-9187.

About the Author

I am digital director at the Reynolds Center for Business Journalism, which I joined in 2009. Before that I was Online Community Manager for azcentral, the online site for The Arizona Republic. Before arriving in Arizona, I worked at Newsday where I was Deputy Business Editor. I was the small business editor at BusinessWeek Online. I teach journalists to use Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools to expand and manage their networks. And I am a cofounder of #wjchat, a weekly Twitter chat about web journalism. You can reach me at Email: Robin.Phillips@BusinessJournalism.org OR RobinJPhillips.com OR @RobinJP

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