The 2016 U.S. summer school, comprising five working days in New York and two in Washington, offered students an exceptional opportunity to explore politics and economics in a pivotal year for the United States and beyond, as the group witnessed at first hand the forces that are buffeting political establishments and straining economies.
With the help of an unparalleled line-up of economists, political scientists and experienced journalists, the students probed multiple angles, from the backlash against political elites to income inequality, the interest rate outlook, tax policy and the murky world of campaign donations.
Coming during the U.S. presidential race and shortly before the Brexit vote in the UK, the visit highlighted common political patterns. It also offered a glimpse at the state of the fast-evolving U.S. media industry, with access to a representative sample of print, digital and hybrid news organizations.
The students met senior editors and/or specialist reporters at the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Center for Public Integrity, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Vanity Fair, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Reuters and Fast Company.
Featured speaker: Bethany McLean
Investigative reporter Bethany McLean, now working for Vanity Fair, shared her top reporting tips and told how she drew on her background as an investment banking analyst to break the story of the Enron scandal.
In New York, students visited the Federal Reserve and heard economists and political scientists from New York University, Stern School of Business and the New School talk about the challenges facing the U.S. economy and the financial sector. In Washington, an economist at the International Monetary Fund gave a global view of economic challenges, from Europe’s debt burden to the Chinese slowdown.
The U.S. trip, at the end of the year-long masters course, served as an effective launch pad for careers in international financial journalism.
During the U.S. visit, the students took it in turns to write a daily blog. Here are the highlights of the two busiest days.
Student blog: Last day in New York, by Svetlana Skarbo
Talking to a co-founder of Bloomberg News, Matt Winkler, listening to investigative reporter Bethany McLean explain how she worked her way through the Enron story, the largest corporate meltdown in American history, and visiting the Federal Reserve Bank of New York – the week just couldn’t get better. Or so I thought.
Then came Friday, when we gathered in the award-winning New York Times building, for an hour-long face-to-face chat with Mark Thompson, chief executive of the New York Times.
What are the prospects for the paper version of the NYT? Does virtual reality pay? What is the NYT’s growth model? With Mark giving very open and detailed answers to these questions and more, even if this encounter had been the only meeting during our summer school trip to the United States, it would have been so worth it. After a walk through the paper’s Pulitzer hall, we spent an hour with one of the NYT’s sharpest columnists, Eduardo Porter, who sifts through the most urgent economic challenges for his weekly column. He talked us through the process of choosing the story, working with sources, writing, and debating stories on social media.
To make the day complete, and wrap up our week in New York, the newspaper’s DealBook team talked about their coverage of mergers and acquisitions, private equity, hedge funds and the banking industry.
Student blog: Politics and economics converge in summer school finale, by Ritvik Carvalho
Wrapping up the 2016 Marjorie Deane Summer School, financial journalism students from City University explored U.S. politics and global economics on their final day in Washington D.C.
First stop was the International Monetary Fund, for a briefing about the IMF’s structure and activities from the Fund’s chief of media relations, Simonetta Nardin, a former reporter who studied journalism at City University. Senior IMF economist Luis Catao presented the Fund’s latest World Economic Outlook. According to the IMF, key trends to watch are the rebalancing in the Chinese economy, commodity prices, emerging market capital flows, and the level of public debt in Europe.
At the Center for Public Integrity, Deputy Executive Editor John Dunbar walked the students through the workings of the non-profit investigative reporting group. The Center is famous for its International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which made headlines worldwide for distributing the leaked Panama Papers. The ICIJ’s Hamish Boland-Rudder explained how the team picks its battles – prioritizing stories that have a global reach, a trove of usable data and the potential for significant impact.
Finally, Chuck Marr, director of Federal Tax Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank, turned the group’s attention towards the tax stances of presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Marr presented a brief history of tax policy under different presidents and traced the growth of income inequality in the United States. It was a fitting end to two days in the home of the U.S. government, leaving the students looking forward to the presidential contest and curious to see its economic implications.
For more information about the Marjorie Deane summer school or the Masters in Financial Journalism, please contact Steve Schifferes.