The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday March 22nd

Business journalism program faces uncertain future after losing leader

<p>Carroll Hall is the home of UNC's Hussman School of Journalism and Media.</p>
Buy Photos Photo originally taken in 2018. The Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting is coming to UNC's MJ-school in hopes to diversify the journalism field.

This past May, the UNC Business Journalism program underwent a major change: it lost its leader. 

The program began in the early 2000s under the direction and leadership of Chris Roush, who resigned this past year. Roush now serves as dean of Quinnipiac University’s Communications Program.  

Though the future of UNC’s business journalism program is still unclear, Hussman School of Journalism and Media Dean Susan King said faculty will be involved in decisions concerning the future of the program. 

“Discussions have begun,” King said “This is not a decision that a dean makes, this is a faculty decision.”

King said business journalism students are still able to take classes normally. She said Lauren Berry, Bloomberg News employee and UNC alumna, and Carol Wolf, Walter E. Hussman visiting lecturer in business journalism, have stepped up to teach classes in the meantime. 

“We’re talking to students," King said. "We’re talking to alumni. Faculty are sort of amassing — we’re putting together, ‘What are the enrollment trends, what’s best for the students, what can we, as a school support,' and then we'll make a decision as to exactly what the program looks like without Chris."

King said the school’s faculty voted to approve a job description for a new journalism professor last Friday and that the job will be listed soon. She said the hiring process could take about a year. 

She also said she was excited about the Hussman gift to the journalism school, though she did not mention what impact the gift could have on the business journalism program. 

“I’m not one that starts to divide it all up," King said. "I think we have to have a really top-level journalism program, and we’re in the search for a new person right now. Business journalism is a pretty small slice, but the skills that business journalists need, I think every journalist needs. The Hussman gift is a huge boost for the school. I don’t think one program dominates over others."

In the wake of the gift, it is unclear what type of professor the school will hire and how closely their job description will align with the role Roush had in the business journalism program.

“I had been at UNC for 17 years,” Roush said. “I’d pretty much done, I think, all I was going to be able to do. I wasn’t moving up anymore, so I started looking for dean’s jobs about three years ago.”

Alums of UNC’s business journalism program have gone on to win Pulitzer prizes and have worked for major news organizations such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Politico, Reuters, Bloomberg, CNBC and the Washington Post.

Caitlin McCabe earned a business journalism certification from UNC in 2014. McCabe now works as a housing and development reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and said the certificate she earned in the journalism school has helped her career progress.

“It really was just a great, basic introduction to the business reporting world that I know was so tremendously helpful for me when I was applying for internships, and my job here and other jobs that I’ve had," McCabe said. "I think a lot of other students would say the same."


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