When it comes to reporting on businesses, gaining trust within the company and community is one of the most important aspects of the job.
Will Robinson, a University of Georgia alumnus and current transportation, technology and financial services reporter at the Jacksonville Business Journal, spoke on this at the University of Georgia on Thursday, March 21, in Athens.
“I had enough trust and relationship with [the employees] that I would be the go-to contact with that company,” Robinson said.
Since graduating, Robinson has focused much of his energy at the Jacksonville Business Journal reporting on CSX Transportation, a railroad operating in the eastern United States and Canada. After writing about everything from CSX dispatchers being left homeless to train collisions in other areas of the country, Robinson said that without the relationship he’s built with various CSX employees, he would not have been able to get the information he’s received.
“I was able to walk that balance of not getting anybody in trouble or make them lose their jobs, but I have a very human side of the story about the changes that are going on,” Robinson said.
Robinson made a name for himself after breaking a story with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about how UGA had to close its hazardous waste treatment facility and pay $99,900 to the federal government. Despite initially thinking he wanted to report on politics, Robinson the business beat more appealing after interning at the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
“What was fun about being at the Business Chronicle was if [you were] wondering why this company was doing something, [you] could literally just go and meet with the CEO and ask him,” Robinson said. “That kind of access you get to people who are making pretty big decisions that are affecting a lot of people in Atlanta — that was intriguing.”
And, as Robinson said, there’s an audience for business journalism.
“There’s a lot of big corporations doing a lot of big things …” Robinson said. “Business stories are getting more and more to the front section of everybody’s paper, whether they’re a business publication or not.”