Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

Two Minute Tips

When non-business stories are really about business after all

April 19, 2018

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Want to expand your business coverage? Try looking into the business behind other beats, like sports or science. (Photo: Pixabay user Pexels)

It’s easy to get locked into small views of what constitutes stories in a field of coverage. Often, what might seem like something in sports or entertainment or science could actually be about business. All you need do is keep your mind open.

For example, I don’t cover sports but have on more than one occasion written about the business of sports, like whether the NFL could profit off its non-profit status.

Want a bigger example? Do a web search for “sports stadium funding” to see how public money and sports entertainment intertwine into substantive coverage. You could easily talk about hundreds of millions of dollars in projects, which means the construction industry, real estate, team business owners, regulation, local businesses, and complex economics. Or, instead, look at the size of coaches’ salaries at universities or the attempt of student athletes to unionize as a look at the business of education.

There have been some great recent examples of articles on people who found ways to beat the lottery based on flaws in the designs of the gaming systems. Given that annual sales top $80 billion, the U.S. lottery industry is a sizeable one. Other possibilities would be the impact of a win on the places that sell tickets or perhaps a business that got its funding from someone’s lottery win.

A few years ago, a breach of Sony’s corporate systems offered business journalists opportunities to discuss security and a gender salary gap.

The site Hyperallergic, which focuses on the art world, ran a good piece on the transformation of the positions and responsibilities of guards at New York art museums while their pay often remained near minimum wage when not represented by a union.

Here are some points to remember when looking for business stories in areas usually considered part of other coverage.

  • Remember that any industry, even if covered in other types of journalism like food, entertainment, lifestyle, or culture, still remains a business.
  • Look for numbers that go beyond the confines of other specialized journalism. They may appear in capital investment, labor, management costs, pricing, real estate, or some other aspect of business.
  • Consider partnering with a reporter who covers the non-business aspects of the industry. You may know the business considerations but might not recognize the players, relationships, or even dynamics that may drive business decisions.

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