Business Journalism

The field of business journalism has grown dramatically in the past few decades. Daily newspapers, magazines, digital news sites and television stations want journalists who can write with the authority of Wall Street pros, but communicate the relevant news in accessible language for Main Street readers.

The Donald W. Reynolds Chair in Business Journalism

The business journalism program at Washington and Lee University prepares students to fill these roles. Established in 2002, the program bridges two historic strengths of the university: its journalism department and its undergraduate School of Commerce, Economics and Politics. The program also taps the resources at the Washington and Lee School of Law.

The program was launched with a $1.5 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, which created an endowed chair for business journalism. In 2004 and again in 2007, the Reynolds Foundation augmented its original grant with three-year $450,000 awards In 2010, the foundation gave the journalism department a five-year $1.5 million grant.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the eponymous national philanthropic organization, was founded in 1954. When it closed in 2017, the foundation had awarded $1.8 billion in grants to various universities and organizations. The gifts included endowment of three more business journalism chairs in Missouri, Nevada and Arizona.

In the Classroom

Students following the business journalism sequence will take all of the required courses for the journalism major plus two specialized courses: Reporting on Business (Journalism 371) and Reporting on the Economy (Journalism 372.) They also take at least six classes in the Williams School, including Introduction to Economics and Introduction to Accounting. Four additional upper level classes must be taken in Accounting, Business Administration or Economics, including at least one with an international focus. They must also complete an internship of at least 200 hours.

The Reynolds program regularly brings business journalists to campus to talk to students about the profession. Speakers have included Diana Henriques, The New York Times, David Fahrenthold, The Washington Post, and Greg Ip, The Wall Street Journal.

In the Real World

Because of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, paid summer business journalism internships are available for all business-journalism majors. Recent internships include Bloomberg News, CNBC, Tampa Bay Times, American City Business Journals, Richmond Times-Dispatch and Charlotte Observer.

Questions and comments: Alecia Swasy