By Christopher Nelson, freelance journalist and graduate student, Georgetown University Law Center
Last week I had the privilege of being a Reynolds Center for Business Journalism fellow at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers conference in Indianapolis. It was my first real exposure to business journalism as a concentration.
As a veteran television assignment editor and web producer, I’ve had exposure to lots of breaking news, political stories and natural disasters, yet I’ve never really focused on the economy and business stories. When not helping to get things on T.V., my writing for online outlets most of my work has focused on media and race. At a time in which economic news is such a crucial story, I felt it necessary to look deeper at a subject that every day affects the lives of everyday people.
SABEW as an organization is nearly 50 years old. Their members work at some of the most respected news outlets from across the country, including the Associated Press, Reuters, Dow Jones Newswire, Bloomberg News, CNBC, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune Magazine and a slew of other outlets. When it comes to covering the economy, I learned that SABEW members are not only reporting on the day’s of events, but helping to forecast what’s to come, and taking a look back at how history plays in role in how the economy fairs.
My experience at SABEW actually kicked off before the convention officially got under way as I attended a free daylong training session “Be a Better Business Watchdog – CAR for Business Journalists.” It was my first opportunity to take a computer assisted reporting class and it immediately opened my eyes.
Jaimi Dowdell, training director for Investigative Reporters and Editors helped show my fellow participants and I on how the data we gathered through research could help us craft stories about a variety of economic stories wherever we were from. It was a great crash course into one facet of business journalism.
Over the course of the next two days, I had the chance to hear from various keynote speakers such as Richard Cordray the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, who outlined the mission of his agency, which is currently being built from the ground up.
Cordray said the CFPB is committed to helping educate consumers in a way which allows them to make responsible financial decisions, enforce rules and regulations which keep personal finance companies in line and protect consumers, and study the intersection of the consumers, finance companies, and the economic markets.
Other workshops gave an up close look at how to deconstruct and assess the accuracy of economic development studies, understand the growth in sports business reporting, better tell complex business, and economic stories in a comprehensible, and of course, take a close look at the changing landscape of the media.
SABEW’s conference ended on an up note with its “Best in Business” Awards, which highlighted the remarkable work being done by business journalists across the country and around the world. Whether online, in print, or on television, the stories gave everyone a better sense as to the economy, one of the true forces which truly makes the world go round.
In my next post I’ll explore another important topic, diversity in the business reporting ranks.