Financial Literacy Basics: Producing Better Business Stories

Course Overview

Financial Literacy Basics: Producing Better Business Stories
Self-Directed Course
Time Estimate:
3-5 hours

About Self-Directed Courses

In a self-directed course, you can start and stop whenever you like, progressing entirely at your own pace and going back as many times as you want to review the material.

Numbers and financial information aren't just for the business page! Journalists of all stripes need to be financially literate. The goal of this course is to improve financial literacy among journalists, writers, editors, bloggers, students and teachers — anyone interested in writing about financial topics.

This course is designed for the person who has limited or no experience in writing about business and who has never taken an accounting, finance or business class. It assumes little knowledge about the subject, but it does require curiosity and willingness to learn about how businesses work, or in some cases, don't work at all and end up going bankrupt.

The material presented here has been collected and refined over 30 years by an accomplished financial journalist who had no formal training in business prior to becoming a business reporter. The course relies on simple language and examples to explain complicated topics. But the course is not complicated; it is designed with the beginner in mind. The format has proven successful in courses used to train both professionals and college students interested in mastering basic financial concepts.

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to translate technical, financial information into language that most people can understand. You also should feel considerably more confident in your ability to interpret financial information and use such information effectively in both your spoken and written communication.

What Will I Learn:
  • How to read and make sense of financial statements
  • A deeper understanding of how business intersects with Wall Street
  • A basic understanding of why some businesses are winners while others remain perennial losers
  • How to tell if a company is earning or losing money
  • The difference between "public" and "private" companies
  • The difference between borrowing money and issuing stock
  • How to make basic calculations that will tell you when a company is headed for trouble — and what happens when a company files for bankruptcy
Who should take this course:

Reporters, bloggers, editors, students, teachers and others without business backgrounds who are interested in learning the basic language of business.

Course Instructor:

Mark Tatge

Mark W. Tatge teaches multimedia journalism and media studies at DePauw University where he is the Eugene S. Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism. He joined DePauw in 2011 after spending four years at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism where he developed a business and economics writing program.