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Journalism students getting down to business

By Jenni Knight

Want to know how the stock market works or find out the latest on the global economy? Some students in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications can answer your questions, thanks to the school’s emerging specialty in business and financial journalism.

Cassie Cope, a senior journalism major, was a student in one of SJMC’s first business journalism classes offered in spring 2012 by Rob Wells, a visiting professor and former deputy bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal.

“It was a really cool experience,” said Cope. “He taught us how to navigate Securities Exchange Commissions files, so I could in five minutes probably tell you how much the top executives at Google get paid.”

Cope now has business journalism on her resume, hoping it will make her more marketable and hirable as she is applying for post-graduate internships and jobs. She also has put to use the skills she learned in the class with an internship with The State newspaper.

“It’s nice to have the opportunity to focus on such a niche and be able to understand and learn about it early on and apply it,” said Cope.

SJMC is focusing on business journalism thanks largely to a generous donation from alumnus Ken Baldwin. Through visiting professors, speakers, conferences and a new partnership with South Carolina ETV, students have many opportunities to learn about the increasing importance of merging these two fields. Business reporting skills can make students stand out from other candidates when they apply for jobs because business is often an integral part to any news story.


Business Journalism: The Student Perspective
As news editor for The Daily Gamecock, Thad Moore, a sophomore political science major, said he understands the importance of learning about businesses, because money is often at the heart of everyday news.

“We have a responsibility to be doing in-depth reporting on business, on education and on government, so it’s important that we all have those skills,” said Moore, who wants to make a career out of business writing.

SJMC alumnus Josh Dawsey is using his business journalism education at the Wall Street Journal’s foreign exchange desk — the result of hard work with USC classes, editing The Daily Gamecock and networking with journalism professionals like Professor Wells.

“I think for all journalists, whether you’re a features writer for a magazine or you cover the highest level of government, knowing how to cover business is very important,” said Dawsey. “A lot of times in journalism, the best trick is to follow the money.”

Wells will teach a course this spring about understanding and covering the economy. According to SJMC Director Dr. Carol Pardun, Wells’ 2012 course received “rave reviews,” so the 2013 roster filled up quickly, and there are no open seats left in the class.

Current Gamecock editor-in-chief and senior print journalism major Colin Campbell is excited about taking the course.

“What I think the business initiative is looking to do is deepen that reporting… and go beyond just the surface level of what’s happening, what’s been announced, to what the implications of those announcements are and why they’re important,” said Campbell. “I heard last semester’s class was very open and had a lot of discussion about how business journalism comes into contact with the world. It’s something I would encourage anyone to take.”


Business Journalism: The Professional Perspective
Sophomore public relations major Thomas Bell also claimed a spot for the spring 2013 course. He says he hopes to learn more about business while working toward a career in corporate public relations.

“This class focuses on reporting about the number one issue in the nation — the economy — and I feel taking this class will be very valuable in the future,” said Bell.

WIS News anchor Hannah Horne, who recently completed a master’s degree in business administration at USC, has praised the school for providing these new opportunities for students to gain a greater depth of business knowledge. Horne said that she values her deep understanding of business-related issues because viewers or readers can tell the difference when the details are merely glazed over in a complicated business story.

“As someone who had to go back to get a master’s degree in order to accentuate my news experience with business experience, I’m glad now to know it’s something offered right out of the gate to young people,” said Horne.

For more information, visit our business journalism webpage arrow

Jenni Knight

Jenni Knight is the 2012 recipient of the G. Richard Shafto Fellowship. As a fellow, she spent 200 hours of internship work in the WIS Newsroom, working with reporters, producers and news staff. In addition to her internship at WIS, Jenni worked with Dr. Andrea Tanner to write this article and produce the videos for this web feature.

Jenni is a senior broadcast journalism major and a student in the South Carolina Honors College. She is from Lynchburg, Virginia and received the McNair Scholarship for out-of-state students. As an aspiring television reporter, Knight has been involved with Student Gamecock Television since she was a freshman, working as an executive producer, content director and assistant station manager. She has hosted and produced five seasons of SGTV’s entertainment news show, Talk of the Town.




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