Module JD030

Business and Trade Journalism

Module author

Paul Dwyer

University of Westminster

Learning objectives After you have completed this module, you will be able to:
  • Explain the structure of the business and trade journalism industry;
  • Identify relationships between business and trade journalism and the development of western economies;
  • Identify different genres of business and trade journalism;
  • Analyse how these genres have developed to serve the needs of different business and trade audiences;
  • Identify and use sources of contacts and information to develop into news stories;
  • Identify and develop skills in producing content in appropriate print formats, broadcast, audio and video formats, and digital formats;
  • Analyse the key ethical challenges facing business and trade journalists.

Chapter 1: The History and Structure of Business and Trade Journalism
1.1 The History of Business and Trade Journalism
1.2 Business and Finance Journalism
1.3 Business Newspapers
1.4 Business Magazines
1.5 Broadcasting and Business News
1.6 The Structure of the Business and Trade Journalism Market
1.7 The Digital Transformation of Business and Trade Publishing
1.8 From Business and Trade Journalism to B2B Publishing

Chapter 2: Business and Trade Journalism: Audiences and Genres
2.1 Identifying Audience Interests: Practice, Policy and Trends
2.2 Genres of Business and Trade News
2.3 Traditional Trade Genres: Agricultural and Farming Journalism
2.4 Specialized Practice Genres
2.4.1 Technology Trade Journalism
2.4.2 Health and Medical Journalism
2.4.3 Legal Journalism
2.4.4 Education Journalism
2.4.5 Accountancy and Banking Journalism
2.5 Reporting Trends: Entertainment and Media, Fashion and Beauty Journalism

Chapter 3: Finding Content: Sources and Contacts
3.1 Building a "Content Pipeline"
3.2 Newsgathering: Establishing The News Diary
3.3 Trade and Professional Associations
3.4 Companies
3.5 News Agencies
3.6 Specialist Business and Trade News Sources
3.7 Government
3.8 Industry regulators
3.9 Consultancies, Analysts, Universities and Research Organizations
3.10 Market Research Companies and Trend Reports
3.11 Commercial Trade Shows, Conferences, Exhibitions and Awards
3.15 Digital and Social Media Sources
3.15.1 Email Alerts
3.15.2 Social Media Platforms and Dashboards
3.15.3 Practitioner Blogs
3.16 Developing a Contacts Book and News Beat

Chapter 4: Print Formats and Skills
4.1 Changing Formats and Platforms
4.2 Turning information into news stories and other print formats
4.2.1 House style
4.3 What is News?
4.3.1 What's ‘New'?
4.3.2 Telling Stories: Impacts and Reactions
4.3.3 Writing a News Story: The Inverted Pyramid
4.4 Editorial, Column or Opinion Pieces
4.5 News Features
4.6 Profiles
4.7 Product or Event Reviews
4.8 Gossip
4.9 "Advertorial"

Chapter 5: Broadcast, Video and Audio Formats and Skills
5.1 The spread of audio and video formats
5.2 News Formats for Audio and Video
5.3 Writing Scripts for Audio and Video News ‘Packages"
5.4 Producing Audio Formats – Sound and Actuality
5.5 Producing Video Formats –Telling Stories with Pictures
5.6 Interviewing for Long Form Audio and Video Formats
5.6.1 Building rapport
5.6.2 Practical arrangements
5.6.3 Writing the questions
5.6.4 Before the Interview
5.6.5 Asking the questions

Chapter 6: Digital Formats and Skills
6.1 Digital formats
6.2 Live reporting
6.3 Interactive reporting and user generated journalism
6.4  Globalization
6.5 The Quantity of Digital News Content
6.6 Navigation, Linking and Social Media Promotion
6.7 News Apps
6.8 Blogging- becoming a business or trade journalist

Chapter 7: The Future of Business and Trade Journalism

Study points 2
Preview Business and Trade Journalism


Why Open School of Journalism believes that Business and Trade Journalism is important

Business and trade journalism focuses on all aspects of business, trade and commerce, ranging from articles on personal finance to reports on the activities of global corporations. In addition, trade journalism may focus on the latest news from within any particular trade, from banks to medicine to the legal field. In many periodicals, including newspapers and general-interest news magazines, whole sections are dedicated to business and trade journalism. In addition, broadcast media outlets regularly feature business and trade stories, whether in the form of dedicated programs and channels or through focused segments of more general news programs.

In an increasingly interconnected world, the affairs of companies large and small is intimately tied to myriad other themes that affect individuals' everyday lives, from the price of milk to the tax accounting practices of a popular merchant. Business and trade journalists are vital to informing the public of recent developments and general trends in the world of commerce. With the thorough and accurate reporting of business news, consumers can make more educated purchasing decisions. Voters can make more informed appeals to their representatives for relevant legislative actions. Altogether, citizens can respond appropriately to the economic shifts that accompany the changing tides of business and trade. Business and trade reporting has the potential to work athletically, as a "whistle-blower" on unfair business practices and prescriptively, offering counsel to its readers by offering a snapshot of current economic factors or by analyzing other companies' errors and successes.

Business and trade journalism are long-established kinds of reporting, dating all the way back to the Middle Ages. However, recent shifts in technology and news media have adapted the role of the genre as well as its scope. More than ever, readers are interacting with their information sources. Instead of passively opening a newspaper, many readers leave comments at the foot of online news stories, or they may even get their news stories from favorite bloggers. Instead of reading the same newspaper day after day, it's common for readers to stumble across articles from varied news outlets, simply because a friend has "shared" the particular stories through social media. With this freer, more personalized and more active exchange of news information, business and trade journalism is no longer relegated to the "dry" business or economics sections of the paper. Instead, stories of more general interest or more in-depth coverage have a better chance of meeting engaged and interested readers.


Why study Business and Trade Journalism?

This module in Business and Trade Journalism seeks to prepare interested journalists and journalism students to produce insightful, fluid and high-level reporting on business and trade themes. By taking this module, you can expect to develop practical skills in producing content for print, broadcast, audio, video and other digital news formats. In addition, students will learn to identify and analyze the fundamental structure of business and trade journalism, tracing its development through its centuries-long history. This historical component of the coursework will also offer a window into the continuous interplay between business journalism and the development of western economies, through different periods of shifting economic systems and business structures. Through an overview of the scope and focus of business and trade journalism, students will also learn to identify different subgenres within the field and to understand how journalism has influenced and interacted with the development of each of these particular industries. Students will have the opportunity to examine in greater depth those subgenres of greatest interest, while attaining a general familiarity with a number of the most important subgenres.


Overview of the module

The module has been designed into seven sections, each covering a different facet of business and trade journalism. Students will begin with a survey of the history and structure of this form of journalism, focusing in particular on business and finance journalism, business newspapers and magazines, and broadcast business news. After surveying these formats, students will examine the evolution of these forms of journalism with the rise of digital media and B2B publishing.

The next segment of the course unit will focus on particular audiences and genres of the larger field, of business and trade journalism in general. Students will learn to identify the interests of particular audiences and to identify and analyze different traditional genres of business and trade journalism. Genres and subgenres studied will include agriculture and farming journalism (a "traditional" trade genre), as well as tech, health, legal, education, accountancy and banking journalism. Finally, this segment of the module will cover entertainment, media, fashion and beauty journalism, assessing the practices and trends in reporting on these particular trades.

With the third segment of the course unit, students will immerse themselves in the more practical aspects of business and trade journalism, such as finding sources and contacts. Students learn how to build a "content pipeline" to ensure well-informed and interesting news stories well into the future. As a student, you will also learn to make a news diary, which will help you to gather news in a regular and disciplined way. This third segment of the module also teaches students about trade and professional associations and the various companies, news agencies and specialist news sources that industry reporters should know about. In addition, students learn about working with relevant government bodies, industry regulators, consultancies, analysts, universities and research organizations as news sources. Students familiarize themselves with reading and analyzing trend reports and other output of market research companies, as well as commercial trade shows and exhibitions. Finally, this component of the module will teach you to use digital and social media news sources responsibly for the most up-to-date information on relevant themes.

Once students have attained a solid grasp of how to identify news sources and develop fruitful relationships with them, the modul's focus will shift to honing journalistic skills in specific formats. Segment four will be devoted to skills within print journalism. As a student, you will learn to organize your information and compose it into an article for print publishing. You will also learn the basics of house style, so that your content is tailored to your particular news outlet. You will explore questions of what makes something newsworthy and whether the information of interest is, in fact, "new". This segment will also cover more general and basic journalistic skills, such as the inverted pyramid structure of a standard news story, as well as various ways of presenting information into a story, and the corresponding impact on the reader. This segment will also give some attention to crafting editorial, column and opinion pieces within the business and trade sector, as well as longer profile-type pieces, product or event reviews and feature articles. Finally, students will learn to distinguish what makes a piece of journalism into gossip writing or "advertorial" writing.

In addition to print media, students will learn to write for broadcast, video and audio news formats. This segment of the module will offer an introduction to the spread of audio and video formats and their changing role in media. In addition, students will learn essential skills of script writing for audio and video news "packages", as well as the visual storytelling skills of video-based reporting. During this segment, students will also learn the art of interviewing, from building rapport and making contact, to preparing questions, to organizing and conducting the interview.

Lastly, students will have the opportunity to hone their news-gathering and reporting skills for digital formats. Each student will become familiar with the various digital formats currently used for business and trade journalism. This segment of the coursework will also focus on the particular challenges and characteristics of live reporting as well as interactive reporting and the growing field of user-generated journalism. In this segment, students will also investigate the role of globalization in the changing face of reporting, and will study how the sheer quantity of reporting influences its production and role. As a student, you will also learn about navigation, promotion and linking within various social media platforms, as how these skills relate to business and trade journalism. Current news apps and the world of blogging will round out this penultimate segment of the module. From there, students will devote themselves to one final segment, which will address the future of business and trade journalism and bring together all the content learned thus far to detect upcoming trends and changes.

Whether for veteran reporters or new writers, this comprehensive module in business and trade journalism is designed to provide practical know-how as well as a thorough background in the traditions and the new directions of this niche of news reporting. For the beginner, the course unit will cover basic journalistic skills such as interviewing and article formatting. For more seasoned writers, the course unit will also offer the opportunity to plunge into the nuances and the ever-changing potential of this particular journalistic theme.

Learn more about business journalism.