By Justin Madden
Grambling State University Media Bureau
The president of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism told students at Grambling State University this week that the world of business journalism needs them.
During a 1.5-day visit earlier this week, Andrew Leckey told more than 30 Department of Mass Communication students they should consider business journalism because it’s a cool, fun job, it’s meaningful, it’s not all about numbers and business should be covered by more diverse populations.
“Business journalism is a great opportunity for folks of color, because they are the ones usually most affected,” said Leckey. He said there are good opportunities for careers in business journalism, especially for African Americans because there are so few people of color covering business.
It was Leckey’s first visit to Grambling State, and to northern Louisiana. Leckey chose Grambling as the only institution to visit among those that hosted a Reynolds visiting professor this year. He promised Will Sutton, Grambling’s Reynolds Visiting Professor of Business Journalism in Spring 2012, that he would visit the institution shortly after Sutton received special recognition as a co-founder of what became UNITY: Journalists of Color at the UNITY convention in Las Vegas. “I’ve heard a lot about Grambling,” said Leckey, who noted that he had not met any Grambling students until this visit. ”I was interested in meeting with students.”
During his visit to the small city university campus, Leckey met with Grambling President Frank G. Pogue, Provost Connie Walton; Rama Tunuguntla, dean of the College of Professional Studies and Martin Edu, head of the mass communication department. Leckey said he first became familiar with Grambling when Edu attended a business journalism professors program at the center’s headquarters at Arizona State University, the same program that Sutton attended in January as a part of the visiting professorship.
Department head Dr. Martin Edu said Leckey’s visit was a follow up visit after the department received a $50,000 grant earlier in the year.
In the fall of 2011, Grambling was chosen as one of several universities to host a Reynolds visiting professor. Subsequently, Sutton was selected as that professor. Sutton, a former president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and a member of the Society of Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), taught an introduction to writing and editing course with a business journalism focus and a business journalism course. In addition, he started and directed the Reynolds Tigers, a strictly optional professional development program with a business journalism emphasis. Since his professorship ended, Sutton has continued working at the university in his home state, now employed as the director of public relations and communications for the university.
Edu explained that Leckey was instrumental in bringing the visiting professor program to Grambling and the mass communication department. “He made the final selection of the four schools that received $50,000 grants,” one of which supported Sutton’s tenure in the spring, said Edu. “His visit was to enable him to see the progress our department is making in advancing business journalism, meeting with the faculty and students and to determine ways that he could further assist us.”
Leckey said Grambling was chosen for the visiting professor grant because the department’s application was strong. “It was clear from the application that the school had the potential, intelligence and tradition that would foster excellence,” said Leckey.
Leckey also spent time with former members of the Reynolds Tigers program, including Andrea Beasley, a junior business journalism major from the San Francisco area. “I admired his ability to connect with students about the lack of minority business journalists,” said Beasley. “I hope students were able to get a better idea about business journalism and what it offers.”
Leckey said he did not discuss the possibility of Grambling getting another visiting professor, but he hopes to further the partnership between the university and the center, possibly involving Grambling students with business journalism programs coordinated through the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University in Phoenix.
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* Justin Madden is a senior mass communication major, the editor of The Gramblinite, a former member of the Reynolds Tigers and a member of the university media bureau. He took Sutton’s business journalism course and uses some of those skills in his reporting and editing.