As part of the fallout from a decade’s worth of changes in the media, many news organizations no longer have the resources to tackle long, complex business and economics stories. To help reverse the slide in coverage of these issues, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism will establish the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Center for Business Journalism to support veteran reporters and train students entering the field.
The new Center will be financed by a $3 million gift from the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation, started in 2010 by Suzanne, Terry, and Bob McGraw. They are the children of the former chairman and CEO of McGraw-Hill, a publishing and financial services company that owned BusinessWeek magazine for 80 years. The Center will also receive support from the City University of New York and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
“My father loved business, journalism, and education,” said Harold “Terry” McGraw III, chairman and CEO of McGraw Hill Financial. “We are thrilled to create the Center in his name to preserve his special legacy and to benefit the vital work of business reporters.” Harold McGraw, Jr. died in 2010 at age 92.
A primary goal of the Center is to commission serious business and economic stories from accomplished journalists. It will pay McGraw Fellows a stipend of around $7,500 a month for three to six months of work, resulting in a distinguished piece of long-form business journalism to be published on the Center’s website or in collaboration with media partners.
To promote the development of future business journalists, the Center will also fund scholarships for students who choose the CUNY J-School’s business and economics reporting concentration and provide stipends for those who undertake a summer internship in business news.
Finally, as part of its mission to serve the greater professional community, the Center will hold an annual conference on a subject important to business writers and editors. It will also offer continuing education seminars on a variety of topics, such as the use of social media in business reporting or how to mine databases to find story ideas.
Veteran business journalist Jane Sasseen will serve as the Center’s executive director, starting Jan. 1, 2014. In addition to selecting reporting projects to be funded by the Center, she will work on her own stories. Sasseen was a senior editor and national correspondent at BusinessWeek, editor-in chief of the politics and opinion channel at Yahoo! News, and is currently a visiting professor in the Global Business Journalism program at Tsinghua University in Beijing. She majored in economics at the University of California, Berkeley, from which she graduated Phi Beta Kappa.
The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism is the natural home for a business journalism center. It already offers a Business & Economics Reporting concentration for students who want a career in business journalism or seek to gain expertise in economics, financial markets, and how companies work to help them cover another specialty. In addition, the Society of American Business Writers and Editors (SABEW) holds its annual fall conference at the School.
“The Center will enhance our programs and allow both current and future business journalists to devote themselves fully to the art and science of business reporting,” said Stephen B. Shepard, founding dean of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism who spent 20 years as editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek.
The Center for Business Journalism, which was approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees at a meeting on Sept. 30, will become the third specialty center housed at the CUNY J-School. The others are the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism and the Center for Community and Ethnic Media.