Media Moves

WSJ’s Baker: Business journalism never more important

November 17, 2014

Posted by Chris Roush

Baker at UNCBusiness journalism has never been more important in the history of media than today because of interconnected global economies and people with access to huge amounts of assets, said the top editor of The Wall Street Journal.

“This is a great moment for business journalism,” said Gerard Baker, the managing editor of The Journal. “It’s an amazing opportunity for us who work in financial news.”

Baker spoke Monday at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication to more than 300 students and faculty.

The Journal today faces similar issues to those faced by its founders Charles Dow and Edward Jones in 1889 when the paper began publishing, said Baker. There is a lot of information about companies and markets that is biased and unreliable. He said that Dow and Jones founded the newspaper to provide opinion-free information about what was going in the markets.

“I think the Journal has worked very hard to remain faithful to those values,” said Baker.

While Baker acknowledged that there is a “hungry audience” of consumers who want financial news and information, he noted that the Journal, like all newspapers, has had to adapt to consumers who want their information delivered in different formats and to a print media model that can no longer rely on advertising.

Baker said the end of the Cold War in 1989 helped precipitate the rise of business journalism, which until that time period was inhabited by journalists who were “a bit of a geek” and not as sexy as political or war correspondents. The need to understand financial assets and how they work has become more important to people with pensions, and journalism has become less focused on ideological news.

“Despite what some of you have read…I think business journalism has a very strong future,” said Baker.

Despite business journalism’s growth, Baker noted that The Journal has increased its coverage in recent years of nonbusiness news. He also said that Journal editors and reporters do not have access to what stories are being read online by its subscribers.

Baker became editor of Dow Jones and managing editor of The Wall Street Journal on Jan. 1, 2013.  Before that, he was the paper’s deputy editor in chief. He also previously worked at the BBC, the Financial Times and The Times of London.

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