Alum Angel Gonzalez and the BP Spill

July 13, 2010

Foreign language skills are essential for global business journalists

By Andrew Leckey

Angel Gonzalez, who in recent weeks of his coverage for Dow Jones News Wires has flown over the BP oil spill by helicopter and ridden in boats with local officials, is the prototype for today’s global business journalist.

He is trilingual, he writes online, he writes for print, he does video and he has written a number of long stories on his BlackBerry. Whatever works at the time.

In today’s coverage, fluency in languages other than English and confidence in reporting with a variety of mediums makes a journalism graduate attractive to global business journalism organizations expanding their reach country by country. News bureaus in places like Shanghai and Dubai want bilingual reporters.

The “hottest” languages these days for journalists are Chinese and Arabic, since fluent speakers who can also write well in English are few and far between. But proficiency in a number of other languages can also be a selling point in a young journalist’s career. The importance of adding another language simply cannot be overstated to journalism students.

In Angel’s case, he grew up speaking Spanish in Venezuela. Then he became fluent in French, which led to his B.A. degree in Communications Studies in France at Universite Paris II. He then became fluent in English, receiving an M.A. in Journalism and Latin American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism.

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