Roush: The future of business journalism in ChileSenior associate dean and Walter E. Hussman Sr. Distinguished Scholar in Business Journalism Chris Roush is teaching business journalism to students at the Universidad de los Andes in Santiago, Chile, for two weeks. Read Roush's first dispatch from Santiago here.
By Chris Roush
I have seen the future of business journalism in Chile, and I like it.
Take, for example, Daniela Hofer, a 21-year-old journalism student at the Universidad de los Andes.
For the past two weeks, Hofer has sat in the front row of an intensive course I have taught on business journalism. On the first day of class, she was one of two students – out of 12 – who raised their hand when I asked if anyone had thought about being a business journalist.
I have watched her soak in everything, from how to write an earnings story to the difference between a merger and an acquisition. She has spoken out against business journalists writing advertorial copy and owning stocks in companies in which they report about when the topics came up in class.
In other words, she has caught the business journalism fever.
Her father is a stock broker, so she is naturally attracted to the topic. The questions that she peppers me with during class – and when she is writing a story – shows me that she has the journalism bug that is so necessary in successful journalists.
There is her friend, Barbara Sifon Andalaft, who is also 21 and from Santiago. Sifon wasn’t so sure she wanted to be a business journalist when we started the class. But she told me today, June 6, that now she wants to be one.
Sifon was motivated after hearing Carolina Pica, the Santiago bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswires, speak passionately about breaking stories and getting only 12 hours of sleep one week after the 2010 earthquake because she was so busy writing about the economic impact of the natural disaster.
Sifon also asks an annoying amount of questions, about her stories and about life in the United States. She has the natural curiosity of a good business journalist. She challenged a Bloomberg News journalist who came to the class and caused him to stammer a response to her question.
There are 10 other students in the class, and each one of them has stood out in their own way. Juan Pablo Court writes leads that are on target. Sebastian Molina, when he shows up for class, grasps complicated topics that are hard to understand for most journalists.
There is Josefina Aguirre, who is not afraid to confront me when I tell her friends that I think she drives too crazy – texting and calling friends and showing me a video on her phone while driving through the Santiago suburbs. I can imagine her challenging a Chilean CEO in the future on why his earnings fell in the most recent quarter.
For three hours each day during the past two weeks, these students have learned as much about business journalism as I have been able to cram into their brains. I have marked their stories with red ink, but each day there are fewer corrections on their papers and higher scores.
They have taught me how to cuss in Chilean slang.
But I have taught them how great it is to be a business journalist.