Have you studied journalism?

I’m really interested in hearing from anyone who studied journalism: how much time did you spend studying business and financial reporting? I realize it’s not glamorous but ever since I’ve left the financial industry, I’ve found it maddening how poorly most stories are written. Would it be unusual for someone to do a double major in business/economics and journalism? I know there are options for a joint major in journalism and political science.

I got a master’s degree in journalism, and spent exactly zero time studying financial or business oriented writing. There may have been separate classes for that topic specifically, dunno for sure.

You can double major in whatever the hell two subjects you want. You get your degree(s) based purely on credit hours, so if you’ve got enough credit hours to earn a degree in “X” that has no bearing on whether or not you meet the credit hours required for “Y” degree.

However, that’s undergrad. I’m not aware of many folks who doubled up their graduate-level degrees.

I got a BA in journalism from Kent State from 97-2001. We had to take macro and micro economics and statistics, those were the only business classes we had to take from the school of business. They were particularly hard for me, as I went into journalism partly to avoid math.

At Kent, at least when I went, they emphasized their very well-rounded course load for journalism students. I had to take astronomy, US & world history, anthropology, art history, some classes like “The African American Experience” and a foreign language. I had maybe 1 or 2 journalism-specific classes per semester.

They never really force you into one particular area of non-journalism study. You could definitely CHOOSE to take a bunch of business classes if your goal was to become a business writer, or political science or art or technology if you wanted to sell yourself as an expert reporter in one of those fields. But they weren’t trying to produce a graduating class of business writers, just competent journalists.

They did require internships to graduate and most of the kids I graduated with went to local trade publications. What you did in your internship could help mold your future areas of reporting expertise. I happened to land a spot at the online version of the local newspaper…and now I’m a web developer, not a journalist at all. But I have fantastic writing skills still!

They did spend a lot of time teaching us good interviewing, research and fact-checking skills. With those tools, you can be a competent reporter on any topic.

Are there any journalism schools still open?

Kent State School of Journalism is alive and well, thanks in part to my $50/year donations!

When I got furloughed from my first post-college job, I took four or five undergraduate-level classes in journalism while I job hunted. While the classes were interesting, they never were of any particular use to me either in the job market or as a science teacher.

I was a journalism major for a brief time four decades ago. I remember one of the professors recommending that we includes some accounting and finance among our coursework, specifically so as not to be the type of reporter mentioned by the OP. I’m hazy on the graduation requirements after 40 years, but the fact that a professor made that recommendation makes me think that nothing was required. (You don’t have to recommend that people take required courses.)

It’s not just finance… My doctor is pretty unimpressed with the quality of medical reporting in most of the press. (He particularly notices the NYT as an exception.)

I had a course on how to read an annual report and crunch the numbers. Mainly, what to plug into your Excel spreadsheet and where to plug it, and what the results meant. Not in school, though. This was when I was already a reporter for a business publication. The editor occasionally came up with these things he thought would be good for us, and they usually weren’t, but this one was.

What I remember about (newspaper) journalism: Write for a 6th grade reader. Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.


This sounds a bit more like education than newspaper journalism.

I’m NOT a journalist, but my mother was a newspaper reporter for years. She made sure I understood that you write a newspaper article as if the last graphs are going to be cut (e.g., least important information last, second to least important is next to last, etc.) Traditionally, editors trimmed the articles to length and the easiest way to do that was to cut from the bottom. IOW, everything critical goes in the first graph, then you expand from there.

Mind you, this was the 60s and 70s. Based on the articles I read nowadays, this practice is long gone.

The University of Missouri has enough courses to let students build their own journalism programwith a lot of business reporting but I don’t think it’s a formal program.

Journalism specialization is really a graduate-level conversation. The basic craft of journalism - how to track down a source, how to structure writing for print vs. broadcast vs. website, how to shoot video, short-form vs. long-form, etc. - is complicated enough for the undergraduate level without having to learn the specialties of business, science, law, and the rest.

Like** Hilarity N. Suze** I was taught to read a financial report long after graduation. In my case, it was part of the process of moving from marketing to corporate communications.

That’s the “inverted pyramid” format, which was traditional for hard news. There was also the “I” format for feature stories with hard facts at the beginning AND end, and colorful details in the middle; the “say it-explain it-summarize it” format used in broadcasting; and the newer narrative (podcast) format which is more like a short story.

My undergrad was in journalism. Everything I learned about business and finance was long, long after I graduated with an undergrad degree.

You’re not wrong: the stories (pick a field) are too often terribly written. In all fairness, the reporters are often limited in terms of time and resources, but it still can be an insufferable experience for the reader/viewer to read through poorly researched articles. The best business and econ writers are people who get business or finance degrees, as well as some experience, and then develop as journalists.

That being said, I don’t trash journalism as a major or a profession. When taught well, journalism is a great background that qualifies people for a variety of roles, though like a lot of generalist skills these days, it’s better when it complements other specialized skills that people have. Good journalism training, though, teaches people how to think, how to sort out fact from bullshit.

Plenty. I’d guess well over a hundred. I personally did two years of coursework at Medill (Northwestern) but finished in the College of Arts & Sciences because I couldn’t do an inter-school transfer out of it (they said they had not enough space in Medill to get me in.) My first job after college was at a business newspaper in Budapest. (I was on the photojournalism side, professionally, though my J-school courses were all writing and editing, as well as history and ethics.) The folks who went into business reporting were writers who had an intrinsic interest and knowledge of business through elective courses they took as undergrads, and then developed their knowledge through mentors at the paper. The ones I worked with all knew their shit well.

I can particularly remember that in the 70’s, newspaper articles that had been republished from magazines like the New Scientist without re-writing were disconcerting, because the magazines had put the teaser up front and the conclusion in the last sentence.

Cal still has one, I’m friends with the manager is how I know. It was floundering and crazy, they canned the crazy guy and now I guess it is just floundering.

One of my best friends from college is on the faculty at the journalism school at Kansas University.

Another victim of the Gell-Mann amnesia effect.

Yes, the financial writing is atrocious. So is the reporting on automobiles, or computers, or crime, or science, or medicine, or literally any specialized subject. But because you know about finance, that’s the only subject that sticks in your head as being poorly researched, and the remaining ones you just kinda trust are correct.

I don’t exactly blame journalists for this; they can’t be experts in all fields. After all, I’m not picking up on most of the errors either. But it is a problem that we live in such a complicated world that accurate reporting is both crucial and impossible.