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Business School Deans Rank Business Coverage

October 1, 2013

Deans of 60 U.S. business schools rate Dow Jones, including The Wall Street Journal, as the highest quality providers of business and economic coverage in the U.S., followed closely by The Economist magazine, according to a survey conducted by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University.

“These educators who are training tomorrow’s business leaders have clear opinions about what they like and dislike about current business and economic coverage,” said Andrew Leckey, president of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, headquartered at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “It is also evident from their responses that their daily routine includes close monitoring of this important specialized news coverage.”

The deans, representing major business schools across the country, were given 17 large business news operations to rank. They also were asked to critique coverage and identify what they believe are the qualities of great business reporting.

Seventy percent of respondents indicated that the best work must include insightful explanation of the most important business and economic topics, and more than half said global understanding is important. The deans also said they look for intelligence of experts, accuracy in breaking news and evidence of investigative work.

In critiquing coverage, 40 percent said too many news organizations quote questionable sources instead of finding legitimate experts, and a similar number complained about lack of sophistication in coverage. Bias against business was cited by 25 percent of the respondents.

One business dean said his pet peeves are “hype and experts that speak to today’s news, not to longer-term trends.” Another criticized “writing about self-cultivated celebrities rather than news makers.”

Deans singled out The Economist for excellence in covering the economy and Bloomberg for reporting news about companies. Dow Jones was seen as the leader in market coverage and CNBC as the strongest in broadcast coverage of business and the economy.

When asked what business topics need to be better reported, respondents named business ethics, investment risk, innovation and management strategy.

The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism is part of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. The center offers free training in business journalism through regional workshops and online as well as through daily tips on its website, BusinessJournalism.org. It has trained more than 19,000 journalists since 2003. The center is funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, the foundation has committed more than $145 million nationwide through its journalism program.