Bloomberg News and the Society of Professional Journalists will seal their landmark partnership when training begins in newsrooms throughout the country on the essentials of business reporting, precision writing, freedom of information ethics and convergence.
The first training program is scheduled for Dec. 7 at a television station in Charleston, S.C., said Deb Wenger, chairwoman of SPJ’s Professional Development Committee and the leader of the SPJ training components in the partnership.
Wenger, an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, developed the convergence teaching module. She formerly served as news director at WFLA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Tampa, and one leg of Media General Corp.’s convergence trifecta in the Tampa Bay area, along with The Tampa Tribune and TBO.com.
Three more Bloomberg-SPJ training sessions have been scheduled for a chapter program in Kansas City, a newspaper in Knoxville, Tenn., and broadcasters in Stanford, Conn., said Wenger.
The training program is a $200,000 trial run announced Sept. 10 at SPJ’s national convention in New York City by Betsy Ashton, a member of SPJ’s New York Headline Club. The convention kicked off with “beta testing” for the training modules.
“This is absolutely a wonderful opportunity for SPJ to do something the society has wanted for a long time but just didn’t have the financial resources to do,” said Ashton, who took the idea for the Bloomberg-SPJ training collaboration to Matt Winkler, editor in chief of Bloomberg News.
Winkler, who attended SPJ’s national convention, spoke to journalists about the Society’s training effort with Bloomberg, a news organization with more than 1,700 reporters in more than 100 bureaus throughout the world.
“The best is yet to come,” Winkler said.
Ashton said the $200,000 will fund 20 training programs during the next two years.
“This is the opportunity for any working journalist to improve their reporting and writing skills at practically no cost to get the kind of training they wish they had but never got,” Ashton said.
Wenger said slots remain open for 2005.
“We don’t want to be all about giving professional training to chapters,” she said. “We want to get in newsrooms.”
She said it is a “no-brainer” that newsrooms will value the sessions.
Fred Brown, former SPJ president and co-chair of the SPJ Ethics Committee, developed the ethics teaching module.
He thinks the training will be providing a critical need for journalists.
“Your medium is competing in an environment in which there are so many sources of information,” Brown said. “Ethics is essential to maintain a credible press.”
In addition to the convergence and ethics modules, training also is available in the areas of freedom of information, precision writing and “Knowing the Numbers,” a program about financial reporting that helps journalists write compelling, useful stories about numbers.
Ashton said that if the two-year trial program succeeds, Bloomberg News will consider endowing the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation with $2 million that would help make the program permanent.
Wenger said word of mouth will help accomplish that.
Training costs $250 to $500 for news organizations and $25 per person in an SPJ chapter.
For more information on the training opportunities, logon to:www.spj.org/spj_training.asp.
Amanda Lee Myers is a journalism and Spanish major at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The senior covered the SPJ National Convention in New York City for The Working Press.