OLD Media Moves

Understanding finances a requirement for all journalism majors?

November 11, 2005

I had a meeting this afternoon here at UNC with two large donors to the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. I was explaining to them the program that we have for business journalism education, and I mentioned the fact that in the “Business Reporting” class, all of the students learn how to read a financial statement and a balance sheet so that they can write an earnings story.

One of the donors, who had been silent throughout the entire 15-minute conversation, suddenly chimed in with his opinion that this type of education should be required of all journalism majors, not just those in the business journalism curriculum.

I couldn’t agree more. Knowing how to explain numbers and what they mean helps all types of journalists — and even those who plan to go into a career in public relations or advertising. Yet few schools offer such training to their journalism majors.

I think it would be great if we could get SABEW and business news organizations such as Dow Jones, Reuters, Bloomberg, The Street.com and others to send letters to the deans of all of the major journalism schools in the country requesting that they start making business training a mandatory requirement for all of their students. Then we’d get a reaction from the J-Schools and start seeing better — and more uniform — business journalism education in this country.

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