Business Journalism Lures JMSC Graduates

Money makes the world go round — something many JMSC graduates appreciate.

The JMSC has been teaching business journalism since 2000.

The list of organisations snapping up its talented young journalists is an impressive one; among them: Bloomberg, Forbes, Thomson-Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Asia, the Hong Kong Economic Times, Ming Pao Daily news business desk, the South China Morning Post business desk, the Hong Kong Economic Journal, Fin24.com, Dow Jones News Wire, the Financial Times, Now TV (Business News Channel), TVB’s programme Money Magazine, the Economist Business Unit, Caijing, Caixin, and the now defunct Far Eastern Economic Review.

Leani Wessels

Leani Wessels

Leani Wessels, an MJ graduate in 2009, is working at Fin24.com, South Africa’s biggest online financial publication, and Finweek, a weekly financial magazine. She joined the company after she returned to her native South Africa in June 2009, at first as on an internship arranged by the JMSC and then later as a full time employee. Wessels started out doing content management system work but progressed quickly to being a reporter.

“My beat involves the listed property and construction companies in South Africa,” says Wessels. “I’ve recently also been asked to tackle a new “Special Reports” section where I have to help decide how the content is presented — what the website should look like, what should be linked, pictures etc, which entails knowing everything that our cms is capable of doing, and being the translator between our editors and our IT department, which, as you can imagine, requires a strange new set of skills.”

Kim Huang

Kim Huang

Kim Huang graduated from the Master of Journalism course in 2009. He works as a reporter for the Hong Kong Economic Times where he writes breaking news at the speed desk, monitoring stock markets in Hong Kong and China as well as writing feature stories on listed companies. Huang sought work in the financial sector as he felt that is where the jobs are.

“It seems that only financial media keep doing recruitment. Plus I enjoy the satisfaction of getting useful information for readers to make more money.”

Huang enjoys the work: “It forces me to work fast and swallow finance and business knowledge every day.”

He credits Rusty Todd for equipping him with the tools of the trade: “Professor Todd’s financial reporting course helped a lot, especially earning report writing. It allowed me to work independently in the first two weeks of the job and win more time to learn other things.”

Robert Olsen, another MJ who graduated in 2009, is working for online financial and business news provider, Forbes. Olsen was successful in turning an internship into a job.

“Initially, I started as an intern in September, posting new stories to the Asia page of the website. As time progressed, I had the opportunity to contribute more stories of my own, in both print and video. When a vacancy arose unexpectedly in January, my editor managed to convince her boss that I could do the job, so I was hired in January.”

During his time at the JMSC, Olsen also completed other internships at Bloomberg TV and the Economist Group. He says that the JMSC trained him up for the job: “David Plott and Rusty Todd taught me about business news, Gene Mustain turned me into an aspiring writer. I learned about shooting and editing video from Rob McBride and how to write for broadcast with Jim Laurie. I’ve even written about several legal cases that drew upon what I learned from Doreen Weisenhaus.”

All of the students who have decided to pursue business journalism have done so out of a desire to inform lay people as well as people who work in finance.

“My interest in covering the business and financial news comes from a desire to pursue stories that have a direct impact on people’s livelihoods,” said Olsen.

“Economics play a big role in our lives by determining what opportunities are available to us in terms of education, housing and employment, but the business press is too often written for investors and business people rather than the general public. The best business news involves storytelling that does appeal to a wider audience because it engages and informs with a cast of characters that include companies, competitors, executives and shareholders. I think that many of my colleagues at Forbes are capable of producing stories like this.”

“I just can’t bear the thought of reporting on really trivial events,” said Wessles “I just somehow feel that the economics of a country bind everyone and affect everyone in such a material way that it’s really important to report. I feel that financial journalism gives me more of a sense of purpose than other types of journalism could ever offer.”