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Erik Ortiz on getting down the basics of covering business

Erik Ortiz has covered business for the Press of Atlantic City in New Jersey for about three years. It’s a beat that has him diving into stories about the state’s economy, labor, tourism and the gaming industry.

Ortiz was also a fellow during our “Covering the Green Economy” seminar. He chatted with us about his experiences covering the business beat and his thoughts on China’s growing role in the world’s economy.

What aspect of business coverage are you most interested in?

“Energy and unions – two vastly different areas of the business beat, which is probably why I like them. I think energy and the implications of how we procure it will continue to have a huge impact on society and the global economy. It affects everyone because most of use electricity and drive. On the other hand, while not everyone deals with unions, they are collectively a powerful group, and as a reporter, there’s so much to uncover. It never gets stale.”

What’s your greatest accomplishment so far as a business journalist?

“I still have a lot to accomplish, but any day I can get a private business owner to reveal their finances is an accomplishment.”

Does covering the business beat require a special set of skills?

As journalists I think our mindset is to parachute into any story, whether it’s breaking news about a shooting or the local college announcing a new president or a company laying off hundreds of workers. So I don’t think to cover business well you need to have a degree in economics or accounting, you just have to bring that same set of skills you would use to cover any beat to business. But it takes a lot of understanding about how companies operate and the financial aspects of a business to make a business story stand out.”

What will be China’s impact on the world economy as it continue to grow?

“What China does and says will continue to have great implications on the global economy. China’s recent announcement to allow its currency to appreciate and its exchange rate to become more flexible is expected to help bring stability in the global market and increase household incomes in China. Most extraordinary to me has been the growth in Chinese buying power and the possibility of a middle class lifestyle. More foreign companies will certainly want a part of the Chinese consumer market if the value of the currency rises. I remember reading a story about an Ikea in China where people just went to take pictures but didn’t really buy anything. Maybe soon they will.”

About the Author

Austen Sherman is a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and is also currently working toward a degree in Economics at the W.P. Carey School of Business. He has interned at the Arizona Republic Business section and will resume there this summer while working at the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism. He is traveling to China this summer for an international business journalism course and has been put in charge of the blog for the overseas program.

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