This article was first published by ASU Online which is running the Online Graduate Certificate Business Journalism Program in conjunction with the Reynolds Center and Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism.
Business and the economy have been dominating the headlines and taking over water cooler talk for years. The Dow plummets. Mortgage rates increase. Retirement tips abound. The best cities for new business are rated. There is more interest, argument and passion surrounding the condition and the future of business and the economy than there has been since the Great Depression.
Not surprisingly, the demand for business journalists has increased as well.
“Quality coverage of people and their money is something that does not go out of style,” says Andrew Leckey, president of the Reynolds Center and faculty member of the certificate program. “Research shows us that there is a great desire on the part of readers and viewers to learn more about business and the economy. There is a demand for business journalists that exceeds what is available.”
ASU already offers journalism degree programs through the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and business-specific topics through its Reynolds Center for Business Journalism. Now, ASU will be offering a graduate certificate in business journalism, completely online.
Leckey, who was previously a long-time syndicated investment columnist for the Chicago Tribune, a CNBC anchor and the author or editor of 10 financial books, explains that the certificate is ideal for nearly any writer today. It is relevant for those interested in specializing in business journalism, those who want to hone their reporting skills, and those who want to be able to incorporate business angles into their writing.
“The graduate certificate in business journalism is a way to understand all the facets of the world of money and how they are covered,” says Leckey. “How to avoid mistakes. How to find out information before others do. How to eloquently explain complex topics.”
The power of business
Business writing often includes interpreting data, understanding global markets and knowing enough to ask the right questions. All of this will be covered, but because business is part of the fabric of our global society, business writing for journalists covering other topics will be taught as well.
“There is business in every story: whether you are talking about a movie box office, sports teams, or employment,” says Leckey. “The ability to add that extra dimension gives credibility to a story and is important. And it’s also about human interests and needs. The desire to provide for your family. The desire to have your children do better than you did. The desire to have a stable retirement. They are universal needs not tied to any country or ethnicity. They are all subjects of broad human interest.”
The Reynolds center currently offers many webinars online that have drawn a worldwide audience. Leckey says that he anticipates the certificate program to be popular internationally as well.
“It offers an opportunity for those overseas to find out how America covers business and the economy,” he says. “It is an area that both Americans and those around the world have become interested in because of the increased connectivity among the world’s markets.”
Reaching out to global students
Making the course available online not only opens up access to people all over the world, but it gives participants the flexibility to do their coursework without interrupting their careers or interfering with their personal obligations . Of course, at the end of the day when people are short on time and disposable income, looking at the return on investment for continued education becomes important. Leckey warmly recalls his father’s words.
“My dad would always ask: ‘What is the downside of knowing all those things?’,” says Leckey. “You don’t have to wonder about the relevance of anything in this certificate program. There is no downside. For writers, it’s gratifying to provide information that people really want. That’s about the most you can hope for as a journalist.”
5 online courses
There are five online classes in the 15-hour graduate certificate in business journalism program. The courses will include:
1. Issues in Coverage of Business and the Economy. Understanding the workings of the financial markets, financial statements, the economy, banking, credit markets, real estate and the issues involved in their coverage.
2. Reporting on Business and the Economy. Producing basic business stories, including ones on a public company, a small business, a consumer issue, an earnings report, court records, demographic info, a CEO interview, financial statements, a nonprofit, an IPO and a merger.
3. Better Business Storytelling. Identifying ideas, cultivating sources, gathering scenes and sensory detail to construct narratives, finding real people to interview, interviewing techniques, covering a beat, reporting stories for multiple platforms, using social media in reporting and promoting stories.
4. Data in Business Journalism. Using Excel and public databases; using ratios in financial statements and 990s; localizing economic indicators; researching stocks, bonds, derivatives, currencies and commodities; using the Bloomberg terminal; and creating data visualizations.
5. Investigative Business Journalism. Identifying and researching an investigative story, using public records, including SEC documents, and databases. Producing a capstone investigative business story.