CUNY J-School Launches Fiscal Reporting Training Program

  • By Newmark J-School Staff
Richard Ravitch
Richard Ravitch

The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism is launching a five-year effort to improve state and local fiscal reporting, thanks to a major gift from New York civic leader Richard Ravitch. The goal is to improve the public’s understanding of, and interest in, the fiscal challenges facing localities and the policy implications that result from them.

The Ravitch Fiscal Reporting Program will offer fully funded fellowships for state and local reporters to attend one-week advanced training sessions at the CUNY Journalism School. The program will also host two-day seminars on topical fiscal issues and create a community of journalists specializing in the issue. The first training session is scheduled for the week of Aug. 18 at the J-School.

“The nation and its states have made social commitments that are admirable but exceed the government’s current financial resources,” says Mr. Ravitch. “There are certain to be more fiscal crises like those in Detroit, yet there is very little sustained coverage of the problem and its consequences. The press’s task is to keep the spotlight on public officials who often make easy, short-term decisions with long-term consequences. Reporters can’t perform this vital function if they don’t fully understand how budgets work.”

Mr. Ravitch, New York’s former lieutenant governor, is an advisor to the judge presiding over Detroit’s bankruptcy and was instrumental in finding solutions to the New York State and New York City financial crises in the mid 1970s.

The Ravitch Program will focus on deepening reporters’ knowledge of issues such as budgeting, pensions, health care, debt and the municipal bond market and guide them in ways to make their coverage compelling and cutting edge. The CUNY J-School will bring to bear its expertise in areas such as social media and data visualization to strengthen the journalists’ work.

“We are delighted to be working with Dick Ravitch, who has done more than any individual to bring attention to this critical policy issue,” says CUNY Journalism School Dean Sarah Bartlett. “This problem has the potential to severely curtail the nation’s investment in education and infrastructure, and we are eager to help raise awareness and equip reporters with the knowledge and tools to move the issue center stage.”

The program will be overseen by Greg David, director of the Business Reporting Program at the CUNY J-School and former editor of Crain’s New York Business, where he continues to write a blog and column that often focuses on fiscal issues.

Reporters or editors interested in the Ravitch Reporting Program should contact David at greg.david@journalism.cuny.edu or apply at http://bit.ly/1mCnVhf.