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Dig inside the mind to find the inner personality of your business stories

Alan Deutschman

Alan Deutschman, a Reynolds Endowed Chair in Business Journalism atthe University of Nevada, Reno, leads a session on adding personality into business coverage.

In his journalism career, Alan Deutschman wrote stories for some of the most notable publications around –  Fortune, GQ, New York Magazine, Fast Company and Vanity Fair.

But his next venture as the Reynolds Endowed Chair in Business Journalism at the Donald W. Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, forced his mind to go back to the very beginning.

Deutschman is now faced with the challenge of translating his years of experience on the business beat to valuable lessons for the next generation of financial journalists.

The group of fellows in our Business Journalism Professor group have the same mission and are spending the week finding ways to enhance their business journalism classes.

Together they are charting best practices to guide the future crop of reporters.

Deutschman’s new venture into academia had him pondering an important question – what knowledge did he wish he knew when starting out his career as a business journalist?

“It wasn’t business. It wasn’t economics. It wasn’t finance,” he said. “It was psychology.”

Deutschman quickly realized that he was missing the bigger picture in his stories. Sure he jotted down interesting details – like how a corporate executive sported shorts because he just finished a beach volleyball game – but he didn’t explore the deeper force of what was driving the characters in his stories.

So he began to study psychology.

“I became facinated by what we as journalists could learn from these branches of psychology that would help us learn about the people we write about,”  Deutschman said.

If you’re wondering if you should take the plunge into exploring what drives the powerful executives on your beat, consider Deutschman’s three reasons why psychology is relevant for the business beat:

1. “When you look at business figures, as journalists we need to know what are they up to and if we can trust them?”

2.  “The psychology of the leaders in a company forms the entire culture of the organization. It creates the DNA that replicates even as the corporation becomes quite large.”

3. “Power corrupts. Or perhaps corruption helps people get into a position of power…Hardly any of the executives are immune to the effects of power, money and influence.”

In Basics, Reynolds Week.

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