Description of the Field
Living conditions and spending decisions can change with the state of the economy, and the public needs journalists to explain current business and economic news. The articles journalists write help the public understand economic issues and how those issues affect people.
Reporters, correspondents, and news analysts usually research and write about editor-assigned topics. They interview experts and seek out analyses and opinions related to a story. Then they write articles for print or the web, or they write scripts for television or radio. Journalists also develop relationships with experts and contacts who provide tips and leads on stories. Editors review articles to ensure accuracy and appropriate style and grammar.
Journalists often work under deadline pressure at a fast pace. Yet the work often requires deep research and reporting accuracy. While many journalists work from a news office, they often go out on assignments that require extensive travel. On any given day, a journalist could be reporting anywhere from Wall Street to an expanding textile firm in Singapore. Today, many journalists work for internet publications/magazines as a permanent staffer. Many may be free-lancers who work remotely from a home office.
On the Job
Common titles for jobs in business journalism include news analyst, reporter, columnist, journalist, writer, or editor. These careers can be found at newspapers, business magazines, news programs, radio stations, websites, blogs or other publications. Corporations also may employ business writers in their research or public affairs departments.
Business journalists study and analyze news trends and events. They conduct interviews and research on economic events, such as important data releases, both routine releases and special releases. They also report on corporate earnings, investment and banking news as well as other financial news and issues. They often analyze documents and data, and interview key people in the business world. They prepare newspaper stories and reports, using relevant statistics that illustrate and deepen the information in their reports.
Analysts appear frequently in broadcast media to explain nuances of financial news. These individuals may also be required to shoot video, take photographs, or edit their material.
Typical workdays can be demanding. Journalists face constant pressure to be the first reporter to publish a news story on a subject. When news is breaking, reporters work long hours to follow the story, and because news happens all day every day, journalists may need to work nights and weekends.
Journalists may start out writing for a high school and college newspapers. They may also write blogs or intern at news organizations. Recent graduates may work at local newspapers or weeklies. Infrequently, a recent graduate may do production work with a major news outlet. Journalists may move up into the national media as they gain experience and expand their network of contacts. In addition, earning a Master's degree can prepare students for career advancement, including editorial positions in business journalism or careers in business research.
In the beginning stages of a career, a journalist may perform an array of tasks related to media production – from operating camera equipment and film editing to website programming and copyediting. Knowledge of social media, specific research skills, and familiarity with publishing programs, along with online and visual platforms like WordPress, Adobe Creative Suite, and Final Cut Pro are pluses for advancing in the industry.
Employers will typically ask you to include “clips," links to articles or video pieces, along with your application. They will expect applicants to display a concise and objective communication style. Applicants need to know the different types and styles of articles – opinion pieces, feature stories, inverted pyramid-style reported pieces, and, if required for the position, they will need to be comfortable in front of or behind a camera.
Landing an interview is often half the battle for journalism jobs. Jobs are few and competitive, so persistence is key. It’s helpful to have a referral from someone inside the organization, and to call or write a managing or news editor about the job soon after you submit your resume and cover letter. It is important to build and utilize your network in pursuing a journalism career.
During an interview, illustrate your experience, enthusiasm for the job, and excellent communication skills. Employers are looking for candidates who can think quickly, work well under pressure, and are "likeable" people who can go into the field to interview others.
Demand for business journalists has expanded from print-only media to written and visual work online, where employers like the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and BusinessWeek garner more readers and revenue from online advertisements. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that overall, the employment of broadcast news analysts is expected to grow by 10 percent from 2010 to 2020. The employment of reporters and correspondents is expected to decline moderately by 8 percent from 2010 to 2020, due to the consolidation of news organizations, a decrease in readership of newspapers, and a decline in viewership for many news television shows.
Qualifications Necessary to Enter the Field
Journalism jobs typically require at least a bachelor’s degree, and excellent writing clips and proven experience will make candidates more competitive. Earning a Master’s degree from a prestigious journalism school such as Columbia University or Northwestern University may help you gain industry connections and move up in the journalism world. This is especially true for writing and broadcast journalists.
Employers are looking for journalists who are assertive, up-to-date on current events, have excellent written and oral communication skills and persist as they dig for information. The best journalists know how to find the “inside scoop” that no one else knows—that inside connection, upcoming business deal, or breakthrough product that will capture the public’s attention and bring new knowledge to light. Journalists must also be objective, persistent, and have the stamina to work long hours.
Sample Group of Employers
ABC – abcnews.go.com
Al Jazeera - http://www.aljazeera.com/aboutus/
The Associated Press – https://www.ap.org/en-us/
Bloomberg BusinessWeek – http://www.bloomberg.com/notices/help/
CNBC – http://www.cnbc.com/
CNN – http://www.cnn.com/
The Economist – http://www.economist.com
Forbes – https://www.forbes.com/
FOX News – foxnews.com
Kiplinger – kiplinger.com
The Motley Fool – fool.com
National Public Radio – npr.com
The New York Times – nytimes.com
Reuters – reuters.com
Time Warner – timewarner.com
The Wall Street Journal – https://www.wsj.com/
The Washington Post – washingtonpost.com
Selected U.Va. Organizations/CIOS
For a full list of U.Va. organizations, please see: https://atuva.student.virginia.edu/Organizations
The Cavalier Daily
Media Studies Society
Virginia Law and Business Society
Resources for Additional Information
Local media outlets
- The Cavalier Daily – cavalierdaily.com
- WUVA, Inc. – wuvaonline.com
- The Daily Progress – dailyprogress.com
- C-VILLE Weekly – c-ville.com
- The Hook – readthehook.com
- American Society of News Editors – asne.org
- Dow Jones News Fund – https://dowjonesnewsfund.org/
- Jobs and Internships – JournalismJobs.com
- Global Investigative Journalism Network – http://gijn.org/
- Media Job Postings – mediabistro.com
- National Association of Broadcasters – nab.org
- Pew Research Center for Excellence in Journalism – journalism.org/resources
- The Society of Professional Journalists – spj.org
- Tips for New Journalists - mediahelpingmedia.org/training-resources
- Vault Guides
- The AP Stylebook is the main style guide used by news outlets in the U.S. – https://www.apstylebook.com/