In the News Business

By Kimber Williams

Ryssdal speaking at Emory

Kai Ryssdal

Ann Borden

Consider the conundrum that is Kai Ryssdal 85C.

As host and senior editor of public radio’s popular Marketplace, a daily business report that covers national and global economies, he tackles some of the thorniest issues of the day.

Stock market gyrations, debt ceiling politics, emerging markets; he’s got it covered, unraveling economic complexities in unexpected ways for millions of public radio listeners with a smooth voice and easygoing banter that makes the world of business seem not only easily digestible, but even fun.

Oddly, at the same time, Ryssdal admits that he has “no interest in business news whatsoever.”

“If you think about it, we’re not really a show about business. We don’t have anyone [on our staff] with an economics PhD, no MBAs—none of us care whether the GDP is up, down, or sideways,” he said. “It’s about using this subject matter as a lens to tell stories.”

Ryssdal was keynote speaker for the Goodrich C. White Lecture in February as part of Emory’s Founders Week. In addition to the lecture, Ryssdal spent a day at Emory visiting with MBA, journalism, and economics students.

Ryssdal encouraged students to be judicious about news and where they get it.

“For all the problems that journalism is having right now, there has never been a better time to be a news consumer. In fact, it’s almost too easy to get your news, almost too many options—podcasts, Twitter, Facebook,” he says.

“We don’t have to work really hard to get our business news today. The problem is we have to work hard to make sense of it, to be discerning. The other thing to remember is that everyone out there is trying to figure out how to monetize this digital stuff, which means they are trying to monetize you.”

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