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Reynolds Foundation awards ASU $8.21 million for improving business journalism

Journalists study during the Reynolds Center's Strictly Financials Seminar in January 2012. Photo by Michel Duarte.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the nation’s leader in philanthropic support of professional development and education in business journalism, has awarded two grants totaling $8.21 million to Arizona State University to improve coverage of complex business and economic issues.

A grant of $6.21 million will continue the work of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, which was created in 2003 and has been operated by ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication since 2006.

A $2 million grant will establish a permanent endowment at the school for the Donald W. Reynolds Visiting Professorship in Business Journalism. The visiting professor will join Andrew Leckey, the inaugural Donald W. Reynolds Endowed Chair in Business Journalism, to grow the school’s specialization in business and economics journalism.

“The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism has benefited thousands of students, working journalists and journalism faculty over the past six years from its home at the Cronkite School,” said Reynolds Foundation Chairman Fred W. Smith. “This new funding will assure the long-term continuation and expansion of these programs and is a testament to the commitment of the institution’s leadership to quality business journalism education.”

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, it has committed more than $115 million nationwide through its Journalism Program.

ASU President Michael M. Crow, who has worked closely with Smith and Reynolds Foundation President Steven Anderson, said the foundation’s latest investment will ensure that the university continues to serve as the global hub for business journalism education and professional development.

“Since the start of the Great Recession, the health and direction of the economy have been paramount in the news,” Crow said. “The issues and proposals concerning economic growth, job creation, taxation and oversight of credit markets are interconnected and often difficult to grasp. These generous grants from the Reynolds Foundation will enable the Cronkite School to further evolve the study and practice of reporting and analyzing these important and very difficult topics.”

Since its inception, the Reynolds Center has reached more than 15,000 working journalists, journalism educators and university students across the country with workshops, seminars and a variety of webinars and Web-based tutorials. Its website, BusinessJournalism.org, is a highly popular destination for journalists and students seeking information about the latest concepts and techniques in business journalism.

In addition, each January the center hosts Reynolds Week, during which competitively selected journalists and university professors attend intensive, all-expenses-paid seminars on covering business and economics and teaching business journalism. Future plans include the delivery of business journalism coursework online for both professionals and students under the leadership of Director Linda Austin.

Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan said the Reynolds Foundation, through its support of the center and business journalism education, has “truly changed the face of business reporting in America. It’s a remarkable story of philanthropy making a real difference.”

A Reynolds Visiting Professorship in Business Journalism was launched at the Cronkite School in 2010, providing the opportunity for students to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of a distinguished business journalist. In addition to teaching courses in business journalism, the visiting professor establishes partnerships with local business media and contributes to BusinessJournalism.org.

The new endowment will make the visiting professorship at Cronkite permanent.

Andrew Leckey Angel Gonzalez

Reynolds Center President Andrew Leckey (left) introduces Angel Gonzalez, Dow Jones Houston bureau chief, to speak about energy.

“This long-term commitment to visiting business journalism professors at the Cronkite School again underscores the Reynolds Foundation’s firm determination to improve the quality of business journalism,” said Leckey, the founding director of the Reynolds Center, former CNBC anchor and a longtime syndicated investment columnist for the Chicago Tribune. “Gaining this knowledge benefits the students in our Business Journalism Specialization and fits perfectly within the Reynolds Center’s ever-expanding outreach.”

Former New York Times business reporter Leslie Wayne was the Cronkite School’s inaugural Reynolds Visiting Professor in Business Journalism during the spring 2010 semester. Susan Lisovicz, a longtime Wall Street correspondent for CNN, was the visiting professor last year, followed by former Los Angeles Times business journalist Sharon Bernstein earlier this year.

In January 2011, the Reynolds Foundation awarded a five-year grant to the Cronkite School to establish and administer a visiting business journalism professor program that ultimately will create a network of 11 visiting professorships at 11 different schools. Colorado State University, Grambling State University, Texas Christian University and the University of South Carolina hosted the inaugural visiting professors during the spring 2012 semester. Central Michigan, Elon and Louisiana State universities will host professors in spring 2013.

The Reynolds Foundation has played an integral role in helping the Cronkite School grow into one of the premier professional journalism programs in the country.

The Cronkite School, named in honor of the longtime CBS News anchor in 1984, prepares the next generation of journalists in both the time-honored fundamentals embraced by Cronkite and the multimedia skills necessary to thrive as journalists in the digital age. Housed in a state-of-the-art media complex in downtown Phoenix, the school is the home of the Carnegie-Knight News21 Initiative, the Arizona PBS nightly newscast Cronkite NewsWatch, the regional news provider Cronkite News Service, the New Media Innovation Lab and other programs developed around the hands-on “teaching hospital” model of journalism education.

The Donald W. Reynolds Endowed Visiting Professor in Business Journalism is the fifth endowed faculty position at the Cronkite School, joining the Knight Chair in Journalism, held by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Steve Doig; the Frank Russell Chair for the Business of Journalism, held by former Minneapolis Star Tribune Editor Tim McGuire; the Weil Family Professorship, held by former Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr.; and the Reynolds Endowed Chair held by Leckey.

About the Author

The Reynolds Center, created through generous grants from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation of Las Vegas and operated by ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is dedicated to improving the quality of business and economics coverage through training programs for business reporters and editors.

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