The department of mass communication at Grambling State University is in rarefied company, being the smallest program in the country selected for the $50,000 Reynolds Foundation Visiting Business Journalism Professor Program grant.

The grant proposal was submitted by Martin Edu, chairman of the department. Other journalism programs whose grant proposals were also selected included Colorado State University, Texas Christian University and the University of South Carolina.

The grant was sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University from a $1.67 million grant received from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to promote business journalism. This is the first phase of the annual competitive awards to be made to colleges and universities over the five-year life of the grant.

“It’s very exciting,” said Dr. Martin Edu, head of GSU’s mass communication department. “At a time when print journalism is shrinking, there seems no doubt that business journalism provides a pioneering path for future growth and recognition among Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”

Will Sutton, a veteran journalist of more than three decades, selected as the Reynolds Visiting Business Journalism Professor, is teaching two business journalism courses this spring semester.

“Grambling has had a good reputation for educating African-American students for media careers, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to return to my native state to help the faculty build on a strong foundation,” said Sutton, a past president of the National Association of Black Journalists and a member of the Society of Business Editors and Writers. “I will open students’ eyes to the great options in business journalism in broadcasting, online and in print.”Far too few students, and even some professionals, put business journalism in a box, thereby closing off incredible choices in small, medium and large markets and beyond.”

Sutton, 56, a New Orleans native, has been a reporter and editor at Gannett, Knight-Ridder and McClatchy newspapers. An Eagle Scout and assistant scoutmaster, he has been a senior editor at the Post-Tribune in Indiana and The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. He has been a judge for the Pulitzer Prize, Gannett, Cox and other regional and national competitions.

The professorships will enable students to get valuable training in a specialized and increasingly critical area of journalism, said Andrew Leckey, president of the Reynolds Center and the Reynolds Chair in Business Journalism at the Cronkite School.

“Grambling provided a superb proposal to obtain our grant,” Leckey said.

Edu said that the mass communication department had a concentration in business journalism was a major selling point in the grant proposal he submitted.

“It was probably the most attractive aspect of our package,” he said.

Steve Anderson, president of the Reynolds Foundation, lauded the selected schools.

“These four schools will form the nucleus of a much larger group of institutions that will be selected annually over the next five years,” Anderson said. “The program’s goal is to select institutions that will commit long-term to the teaching of principles and skills necessary to train business journalists.”

, in what we believe, is an increasingly important field of journalism.”

The business journalism concentration, along with a sports journalism concentration, was developed and added to the GSU Mass Communication curriculum in 2009, joining print, visual and broadcast journalism and public relations concentrations.

Courtesy of The News Star