Module JG150

Enterprise Journalism

Module author

Nikki Usher

George Washington University

Learning objectives After studying this module, you will be able to:
  • Define enterprise journalism and explain this journalistic genre;
  • Explain the reasons for this concept;
  • Give an overview of the historic development of the genre, including key persons who established enterprise journalism;
  • Reflect this genre critically.
Study point 1
Reading extract Enterprise Journalism


Why Open School of Journalism believes that Enterprise Journalism is important zu know

What is enterprise journalism? It's talking to sources, digging deep, getting to the heart of the matter, and creating stories that aren't "all the same." Sameness is the number one complaint from consumers of news, so news outlets must work diligently to create material that's more meaningful than simply a list of aggregated stories. Enterprise journalism is a relatively new term but the concept has been around as long as people were first asking "why?" and printing the answers.

In enterprise journalism, on the other hand, reporters start with a question and aren't always sure where they're going to end up. The word "enterprise" means an undertaking, one that is often important, challenging, bold, or energetic, and the best enterprise stories have these qualities. Enterprise journalism is ambitious, looking outside the daily "beat" and normal breaking news. Out of all the enterprise stories that are created, the majority comes from the reporters or writers themselves. Editors will suggest some, and the public might suggest a few, too.

No one person is responsible for this type of journalism, but rather, it has a history that emerges from the most in-depth kinds of news reporting. Enterprise journalism is similar to investigative journalism (which seeks to uncover illegal or unethical behavior) in that it often starts with the question "why." Enterprise journalism works to understand and expose the context and factors that shape events, rather than reporting an event after it happens. They often come from "sources," people who reporters have built trusted relationships with. Enterprise stories are longer and take more work to be balanced, but they usually produce original material and quality news, which readers respond to.

A work in progress in enterprise journalism is often called a "scoop," meaning a compelling story with the potential to tell people something unique, important, or even life changing. A few examples of enterprise news stories:

  • why bicycling injuries are increasing at a particular intersection,
  • how tax-roll errors resulted in the collection of millions of extra tax revenue,
  • what caused decreases in numbers at the biggest beef farms in North America

According to the American Press Institute, "the more democratic a society, the more news and information it tends to have." In the current news era, journalism of all kinds does not merely exist in print, although it certainly started that way. Newspapers, magazines, online news, films—even literature and blogs—have been considered journalism, although blogs are debated as being truly journalistic. Many news organizations have had to cut staff and projects because the availability of news in the Internet Age has increased competition for readers and viewers. 

A few reasons why enterprise journalism is good for the news business in this era of more choices:

  • It adds value to the paper or news outlet;
  • It distinguishes the paper from its competitors;
  • It satisfies readership's desire for meaningful news;
  • It strengthens ties to the community it serves.

Enterprise journalism should be a valuable part of a news organization's business strategy because news professionals are trained to ask the right questions to produce quality news. That means great stories with all the investigation, fact-checking, editing, and proofreading that effective news reporting requires.