Business Journalism

The Donald W. Reynolds Nieman Fellowship in Business Journalism at Harvard offers business reporters an opportunity to deepen their understanding of complex economic issues, make valuable contacts, both within academia and the business world and learn new ways to approach and cover business and finance stories. The fellowship is made possible through a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

Jeff Young, formerly senior correspondent for Public Radio International’s
Jeff Young
Living on Earth, was the 2012 Reynolds Nieman Fellow in Business Journalism. He studied the business and economics of environmental change and provided his Nieman classmates a greater understanding of the relationship between business, the environment and energy use. Jeff now works for the Pew Environmental Group, the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, and will continue to write about business and the environment.

At Harvard Jeff took a wide range of classes across campus, including “Business and the Environment” with Professor Michael Toffel at Harvard Business School; “Energy, Climate Change and the Law” with Professor Jody Freeman at Harvard Law School; and “Environmental Economics and Policy” with Professor Bob Stavins and “Geopolitics of Energy” with Professor Meghan O’Sullivan at the Kennedy School. Additionally, he took two courses on digital media and the Internet’s impact on media and society.

Beyond Harvard, Jeff attended events sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, including “Covering the Green Economy” and the “Strictly Financials” workshop in January 2012 in Phoenix. Jeff reports that he “met some great business reporters and got to know them as we broke down income statements and balance sheets, learning how to see the potential stories in the numbers.”

During his Nieman year, Jeff attended Nieman seminars and lunches that provided him an opportunity to meet with and question top economists, including Ken Rogoff, Larry Summers, and Jeremy Stein. Summing up his year, he said “I’ve also been infected with an urge to innovate. We have so many new tools and new ways to report, tell and share stories. And there are such important stories to be told about our energy choices. I have ideas I hope to turn into new reporting projects and a new media platform to make energy reporting and information more relevant and useful to our users and to encourage civic engagement on these issues.”

Chris Arnold, an NPR correspondent who covers the economy and housing market, was selected as the 2013 Donald W. Reynolds Nieman Fellow in
Chris Arnold
Photo by Finbarr O'Reilly
Business Journalism. Like Jeff, he plans to attend the Reynolds “Strictly Financials” event in January 2013 for four days of intensive study in business journalism.  He also participated in a new master class at Nieman on “Numbers for Journalists,” taught by Kennedy School adjunct lecturer Deborah Hughes Hallett and designed to teach journalists how to understand financial results and other numbers to produce better reporting.

Chris is studying the reshaping of the government’s role in housing after the collapse of the bubble and how the crash will shape the future of homeownership and the American Dream. He also is examining obstacles to technological innovation in consumer product safety. In his first semester, Chris dug deep, doing the work in four courses and auditing four others. learning about subjects ranging from economics and housing, to leadership, the history of finance, Chinese philosophy and nuclear weapons non-proliferation.

Notes from a Nieman semester

I was definitely struck by the cross-currents and overlapping themes in so many different areas of study. For example, a class on U.S. history and the civil rights movement overlapped in very interesting ways with a course on housing and urbanization at the Harvard School of Design, and a class on real estate economics, which I took at MIT. It was fascinating to look at the forces that accounted for racial and socio-economic segregation in residential areas 50 years ago and what results in similar outcomes today.  Ironically, many of the economists and pundits who are champions of the "free market" live in suburban neighborhoods that block the free market from creating housing for a more diverse group of people.  Today, minimum-lot-size zoning allows communities to basically say "nobody can build a house here unless they can afford to buy a full acre of land to put it on." This stops developers from building lower-cost apartments, or more densely packed town-houses, which would allow a more socioeconomically diverse range of people access to the neighborhood and its school district, social networks, etc.  That's, of course, just one example.  Each class I took provided its own insights and take-aways, as did the courses on writing and the journalism lectures at Lippmann House.

It’s such a privilege to be both a member of this Nieman class and a part of the Nieman tradition- the oldest journalism fellowship program in the world. I think of it as an academy for excellence in a field that's crucial to a functioning democracy.  It's great to be a part of it."

Chris Arnold
2013 Donald W. Reynolds Nieman Fellow in Business Journalism

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