Trade magazine editors say it’s time to end the blind spot to b2b journalism in college classrooms.
Journalism students typically find abundant career opportunities in business-to-business or “trade” publications upon graduation, yet the curricula of college journalism programs have historically been weighted heavily toward the consumer side of the profession. It’s with this education gap in mind that the American Society of Business Publication Editors has launched a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt foundation to channel contributions from publishers, associations, and business-to-business (b2b) editorial professionals into a broad-based effort to create educational parity. The new foundation also seeks to create a series of continuing-education workshops aimed at maintaining professional trade editors’ mastery of new-media communication platforms, including Web video, audio and video podcasts, webinars, blogs, and social media environments
“Business-to-business editors and reporters are doing world-class journalism today,” says Robert Freedman, president of the ASBPE Foundation. “They’re breaking stories and introducing innovative ideas that impact entire industries. With its new foundation, ASBPE is laying the groundwork for an increase in emphasis on this side of the profession so journalism students have an accurate picture of the kind of quality work being done in the trades today.
“At the same time, b2b editors face very different professional challenges than their consumer publication peers,” Freedman says. “Unlike consumer journalists, trade journalists must communicate information to an audience of industry experts whose knowledge of a subject matter is as much as or greater than theirs. And like their consumer peers, trade journalists hold as sacrosanct the goals of objectivity and impartiality when it comes to their reporting and editing. Yet the kinds of pressure they can face from advertisers, readers, and industry sources don’t always fit nicely into the consumer publication paradigm emphasized in the college classroom.”
More than two dozen institutions and individuals have contributed to the foundation since its launch at the ASBPE National Editorial Conference in Kansas City, Mo., July 24. Among the goals of the foundation is to endow a university chair — the ASBPE Professor of Business-to-Business Journalism — to develop and teach a defined course of study that prepares students for the special challenges of b2b editing and reporting.
Other goals include the funding of graduate and undergraduate scholarships to students interested in pursuing careers in business-to-business journalism, and the hosting of on-site training programs for editors and reporters already working in the profession.
“The business press is one of the most valuable and little-known industries that supports global business,” says Don Pazour, president and CEO of Access Intelligence, a b2b communications company in Rockville, Md., and one of the foundation’s founding donors. “Its strength lies in the professional journalists and editors that report on and analyze their industries. Access Intelligence supports the ASBPE Foundation because of its special focus on business press editors, the foundation of our profession.”