Baton Rouge, Louisiana is a capitol city with a certain flair. It’s home to a sports powerhouse, Louisiana State University. It has avenues filled with stately homes, beautiful walks dripping with live oaks, and some of the best food you’ll find anywhere in the South.
For us at Reynolds, Baton Rouge is an extra special place. Last week, we kicked off our inaugural custom newsroom training. At the invitation of David Dodson, executive editor of Louisiana Business Inc., I met with staff writers, editors and freelancers at several of the group’s publications to brainstorm and share some business journalism knowledge.
Rolf McCollister, publisher of the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, was on hand to welcome the group. Our theme for the day was Thinking Like A Business Journalist, and we covered a number of areas, first as a group and then in one-on-one coaching sessions.
1) What sets business journalists apart? The short answer is that we are always looking for the money in any story. The long answer is that you can find that money in just about any type of story, and that’s the secret to making it a business story.
2) How do you talk to business leaders? People in the business world have a language all their own. The best way to learn it is to do your homework, and don’t be afraid to ask a good dumb question, as my editor at the New York Times, Adam Bryant, taught me. They’re the experts. We need to know what they’re thinking and understand what they’re doing.
3) Are there secrets to organizing a good business feature? Yes, and one of them is to be very clear about what you’re trying to say.
4) Where do you look for business story ideas? Sometimes, the idea for the next story is at the end of the one you’ve just finished writing.
It was great to meet these smart journalists in Baton Rouge, and kick off a new phase for Reynolds.
We plan to make custom newsroom training an integral part of our mission of helping business journalists. Whether your newsroom is five people or 50, filled with staff and interns or reliant on freelancers, let us know if you’re interested in hosting us. I’m happy to talk to you about our fee schedule and design a program that suits your needs.
In the meantime, I’m still dreaming about that red grouper topped with crabmeat at Juban’s and wondering when I can get to a game at the newly expanded Tiger Stadium.