OLD Media Moves

Credentials for business reporters

December 14, 2005

This blog argues that the way to improve the quality of journalism, including economics journalism, is to have some sort of credentialing system.

Specifically, it states: “Another possible response is improved journalistic credentialling. Why don’t all journalists have the same sorts of credentials that TV meteorologists do? There should be credentials in economics reporting, health care reporting, science reporting, military affairs reporting, and foreign policy reporting. Ideally, these credentials should be open to people who don’t already have J-school degrees. Genuine knowledge and demonstrated expertise could potentially improve both traditional journalism and blogging. And it would give the consumer the ability to distinguish between writers armed only with opinions from those who at least know the basics of what they’re writing about.”

Phil Meyer, a well-known journalism professor at UNC, has also been promoting this idea of “certification” of journalists. The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism gives certificates to business journalists who complete all of its courses within a year.

Yet, I can’t come with a good way to accomplish this on a widescale basis in business journalism. Who would oversee the certification process? SABEW? Not sure the national organization could take on such a project — or that it’s members would want to do such a task.

Could business journalists be de-certified for screwing up too many stories? Would the certification mean more money as far as salary or the chance at getting a better job? How would a business reporter be “certified”? Would they have to pass a test? Seems like a lot of places such as Bloomberg already give job applicants a test to assess their business acumen before hiring them. Isn’t that the same thing as “certification”?

Too many questions, and not enough good answers right now.

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