Michelle LaRoche, a journalist with more than two decades of experience at Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal, joined the USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications in August as its first Baldwin Business and Financial Chair in Journalism.
LaRoche was selected for the position following a nationwide search. Prior to completing her master’s degree in higher education from Harvard University in May 2018, she served as development editor for The Wall Street Journal. There, her responsibilities included the creation and management of the paper’s internship program, campus recruitment, the development of a business reporting syllabus, and oversight of employee training programs.
Her stint at the The Journal was the culmination of a 21-year career with Dow Jones & Company. She served in a variety of leadership roles at Dow Jones Newswires, including time as director of corporate information services, recruiting and training editor and managing editor of Real-Time News.
Much of her previous experience has involved working with young journalists, making her transition into higher education a natural choice.
The chair is the first of its kind in the SJMC and is made possible through a generous gift from alumnus Kenneth W. Baldwin Jr. (B.A., 1949). As part of the larger Baldwin Business and Financial Journalism Initiative, the endowed chair will help ensure that SJMC students gain expertise in business journalism and the business of journalism and mass communications. It’s an area of interest not just for the school but also for the college, which wants students in each of its programs to become comfortable working with data and information.
LaRoche’s hire is another step toward establishing the SJMC as the premier educational institution where students learn the importance of business in the mass communications industry, whether covering a business angle of a story or working for a business as a public relations practitioner. But more importantly, she envisions an initiative that reverberates into each of the school’s programs, teaching all students to approach news coverage with an eye for the bigger picture.