Business reporting is just like reporting any other beat. You have to know what you are writing about, which documents to look for, and which sources to use. Even though the quality of business journalism has improved in the past 15 years, there are still concerns that reporters in the field are not fully knowledgeable about their topics.
Some business reporters and editors do not know the appropriate place to look for the information they need to get the story or to make the story they already have even better. Still others do not understand the basic principles of economics that help a company's profits rise and fall, and even more do not understand the importance of the stock market and trade relations to a business's future prospects.
That's where today's journalism students can make a difference.
Although reporting and writing in business sections is much better than it was three decades ago, some of it still lacks the contextualization that would help local readers better understand what business means to them. As a result, savvy readers who want good business news are eschewing their local newspapers for Internet sites that provide the in-depth coverage they want.
For newspapers, magazines, and television stations struggling to keep circulation and viewership up, the message is clear: To retain consumers of business news, more breadth and depth of coverage is needed.
This goal is especially important during times like today, when everyone wants to know what is happening with the economy. But business writing can—and should—be interesting to the masses, and it should be some of the best journalism today in newspapers, magazines, and on television.
Virtually every person in this country spends time each day thinking about how much money they make, whether they have job security, or whether they should be looking for a new job. They want to know if now is the time to refinance a home mortgage, or whether the CEO of the company where they work is considering selling the business. They want to know which companies are in financial trouble so they do not invest in their stocks. And they want to know which businesses might be good places to work.
Simply put, they want better business coverage.
There's a more basic reason why college journalism students should consider business reporting and editing. While many media outlets have cut back on their newsroom staffs, there are still plenty of jobs in business journalism. And given what has happen recently in the economy, the markets and with companies, news and information about these topics has become increasingly important to everyone.