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Visiting Professor Brings His Passion to the Classroom

March 5, 2014

This spring the College of Communications is hosting Joe Winski, a veteran journalist who has held senior writing and editorial positions at Bloomberg News, Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal. Winski is on campus this semester to teach the next generation of business reporters, thanks to a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University. 

What is your role here as a Reynold's Visiting Business Journalism Professor?
The grant is specifically dedicated to improving the quality of business journalism. Each year, the Reynolds Foundation selects two journalists to spend a semester at a university and teach students how to cover business and the economy. It's a very competitive grant, and Cal State Fullerton was one of two schools chosen nationwide.

What are your goals while you're here?
My goals are to teach students about business and how to cover it — why business journalism can be an interesting career. In terms of job opportunities, I think it's still a relatively promising career. The financial crisis of 2008 really highlighted a need for more aggressive business journalism. There seems to be a greater awareness of what happens on Wall Street and in the corporate suites really does matter. I think that's why the need for business journalists is still very strong and may be growing even stronger.

What would you like to accomplish this semester?
I'm teaching two courses that focus on reporting on business and the economy, and feature writing. I want my students to gain an understanding of the basic concepts of how business and the economy work so they can write about it with intelligence. I did a lot of hiring over the years, and my goal is to give them the skills they need to get an entry-level job or internship in business journalism.

During my stay here, I'm working with Jeff Brody and other faculty members to develop a syllabus for a new course on covering the entertainment industry, which would incorporate basic concepts for reporting on any industry. I also plan to bring in speakers, such as Bloomberg's L.A. bureau chief who's in charge of their U.S. entertainment industry coverage, as well as some top-notch reporters who can really show students how powerful business journalism can be and why they should consider it.

Students seem to be more practical now about career choices. Why business journalism?
I think someone who specializes in business journalism may be more marketable. Publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News are still hiring. You can work anywhere, once you gain these skills and become good enough to be considered by these top organizations. When I graduated with a master's in journalism, I was offered a job at the Wall Street Journal, and there was no better place to learn. There are a lot of fascinating stories to be told, filled with interesting characters. That was the start of a very rewarding career.

What are some important lessons you want students to know?
Accurate, reliable content still matters. If they focus on learning what good content is and how to deliver that, regardless of the platform, they will have skills that set them apart. They also have to learn how to use reliable sources. I told them the first day in class that the three most important things in journalism are accuracy, accuracy and accuracy. If you don't have that, you lose all credibility as a journalist and as a media outlet.

What are your impressions of your students?
The students here are really serious about learning what they need to know and how they are going to make a living. That effort is there, and that's what I really like. I think it falls on us as faculty members to give them what they need to succeed. I'm happy to work hard for them because of that attitude. I really want them to do well.


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