Posted April 2, 2019
By Rebekah Friedman, communications manager
Karen Amanda Toulon, this year’s Baldwin Business and Financial Journalism lecturer, is senior editor of diversity, standards and training at Bloomberg News, where she works with more than 2,700 journalists across the world to enhance their skills and promote the agency’s coverage of international events. Toulon joined Bloomberg in 1999, following positions with Reuters, CNBC and the CBS Radio Network. In 2018, she received the Gwen Ifill Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation for her contributions to newsroom diversity.
Toulon’s lecture, “What the World Needs Now,” will examine the value of perspective and point of view when covering issues in the media. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 7 p.m. April 17 in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications auditorium.
We caught up with Toulon to ask her a few questions about her career and the future of business journalism.
Tell us about your career in business journalism. Can you share some of the highlights?
What I have enjoyed about my career is that every time I think I have reached some sort of milestone, for example, becoming Bloomberg's New York Bureau Chief, something else happens that I personally find remarkable. For example, I found myself in our Kuala Lumpur office working with our journalists to figure out how I could help them share their stories more effectively across our news platforms.
What keeps you in business journalism?
"Business journalism" covers everything — from the financial markets and economic news, to government spending policies, the costs of climate change, and companies and industries around the world. Business journalism — and specifically the fact-based, data-driven reporting that Bloomberg does — helps us understand what is likely to happen, what is happening, why it's happening and hopefully allows us — around the world — to make better-informed decisions.
With some news organizations using “robots” to write earnings reports, what does the
future of business journalism look like?
Automation across all industries will cause some job shifting. But business reporting fundamentally is not going to be undone by "robots" any more than radio for example has been thwarted by the "robot" of its day — television. Indeed audio — podcasting — has blossomed under new technologies. So, what does the future of business journalism look like? I believe that new technologies will create new opportunities and allow for more diverse voices, more points of view, more ways of story-telling, and more ways of delivering those stories to more audiences.
What skills, technical or otherwise, do you think will be essential for tomorrow’s
Being proficient in the technologies of the day will always be necessary. I will not guess where we will be from a technological point of view in a few months, let alone years. But the skill requirements around clear and accurate reporting and writing remain largely the same, with one addition: data. Being comfortable with using data sets as a reporting tool is increasingly important. That may mean personally doing data dives or working with a data-oriented colleague to assist with your reporting.
Many journalism students think they can't cover business because they don't, or won't,
understand it. Or they'll say, "I'm not good at math." What would you say to these
If you have strong journalism skills and have a passion for understanding what motivates people or organizations to act, you have the building blocks to cover business news. Having an aptitude for numbers is important, but even more important is a keen interest in what those numbers mean and how they relate to each other and to us — as consumers and global citizens.
If you could give your younger self advice about working in the journalism field,
what would it be?
My advice to my younger self applies to all professions. First, make sure you have a few people to whom you can turn for advice. They don't need to be in your same field. And second, set short-term success goals. For example, this assignment I am going to polish my data-research skills.
About the Baldwin Lecture
The Baldwin Lecture Series is funded by the Baldwin Business and Financial Journalism Endowment, given by Kenneth W. Baldwin Jr.
A 1949 graduate of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Baldwin funded the endowment in 2009 to equip students with a depth of knowledge to investigate and report on the most significant and complex business and financial topics that affect consumers and taxpayers.
For more information on the Baldwin Business and Financial Journalism Lecture Series, contact Rebekah Friedman at 803-576-7270 or firstname.lastname@example.org.