William J. O'Neil Program in Business Journalism

Journalism alumnae discuss entrepreneurship at a table.

SMU Journalism alumnae Kian Hervey (‘14), founder of Forty Magazine, and Natalie Wolfe (‘12), co-founder of StudioHop, discuss their entrepreneurial journeys with undergraduate students in JOUR 3355, Prof. Jake Batsell’s Media Entrepreneurship class. Students conceive, develop and pitch an entrepreneurial project during the class, which counts toward fulfilling course requirements for the O’Neil Program in Business Journalism. 

 As global markets and fast-paced technological change transform the American economic and media landscapes, mastery of business news and familiarity with entrepreneurship have emerged as marketable skills across multiple professional fields. The O’Neil Program equips aspiring journalists and media professionals with the knowledge to understand complex business and economic issues, the journalistic skills to make those topics understandable and accessible to multiplatform audiences, and the entrepreneurial spirit to take charge of their own careers. And because financial literacy is critical to many professions, the tools and techniques developed in this program also will prepare students for more sophisticated and insightful coverage of subjects ranging from politics to technology to entertainment to the environment to the fashion industry. Students will put into practice what they’re learning about business, financial markets, entrepreneurship, and economics in advanced journalism classes, through coverage of North Texas companies and the regional economy, and in the development of their own ideas. 

Students enrolled in the program are eligible for generous SMU scholarships courtesy of the late William J. O’Neil and the publication he founded, Investor’s Business Daily. Alumni of the O’Neil program have landed jobs at media organizations ranging from Bloomberg News to Investor’s Business Daily to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram to Harper’s Bazaar, as well as at financial and economic institutions including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. 

This innovative interdisciplinary program includes courses in both the Cox School of Business and the economics department. In addition to the 37 credit hours required for the major in Journalism and/or Fashion Media, students wishing to concentrate in business and finance journalism must complete either:

Within the JOUR curriculum, O’Neil students must complete:

  • JOUR 4306: Business and Journalism, and
  • A second business-related JOUR elective, such as JOUR 3355: Media Entrepreneurship; JOUR 4307: Business News Seminar; or another course approved by the O’Neil Chair. 

Admission to the program is subject to the approval of the O’Neil Chair, Jake Batsell. For more details, contact Prof. Batsell at jbatsell@smu.edu.

O’Neil Program Graduates

  • Ruth Anne Emerson, B.A. in Economics, B.A. in Journalism (May 2023)
  • Michaela McTee, B.A. in Fashion Media, B.A. in Journalism, B.B.A. in Marketing (May 2023)
  • Armani Messner, B.B.A. in Marketing, B.A. in Fashion Media (May 2023)
  • Mckenzie Miranda, B.B.A. in Marketing, B.A. in Fashion Media (May 2023)
  • Emily Rourke, B.B.A. in Finance, B.A. in Fashion Media (May 2023
  • Myriam Diaz, B.B.A. in Finance, B.A. in Fashion Media, and B.A. in Journalism (May 2022)
  • Pooja Krishna, B.B.A. in Accounting, B.A. in Journalism (May 2022)
  • Meredith Lloyd, B.B.A. in Marketing, B.A. in Journalism (May 2022)
  • Jenny Rudolph, B.A. in Journalism, B.B.A. in Marketing (May 2022)
  • Kathryn Chavez, B.B.A. in Mangagement, B.A. in Fashion Media, and B.A. in Advertising, with minor in Journalism (May 2021)
  • Giovanna Hnath, B.A. in Journalism, B.A. in Fashion Media, and B.B.A. in Marketing (May 2021)
  • Alexa Vickaryous, B.A. in Journalism and B.B.A. in Finance, with minor in History (May 2021)
  • Marcela Zanini, B.B.A. in Marketing and B.A. in Fashion Media, with minor in French (May 2021)
  • May Bolte, B.A. in Journalism, with minors in Business and Corporate Communication and Public Affairs (August 2020)
  • Uma Assomull, B.B.A. in Marketing and B.A. in Fashion Media, with minors in Journalism and Advertising (May 2020)

O’Neil Lecture Series

The William J. O’Neil Lecture Series in Business Journalism brings outstanding business journalism professionals to the SMU campus each spring. Past speakers have included Emily Ramshaw and Amanda Zamora of The 19th, Diana B. Henriques of The New York Times, Kevin Delaney of Quartz, and Matthew Winkler of Bloomberg News. The 2023 O’Neil Lecture featured nationally syndicated personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary of The Washington Post. Recordings of recent lectures can be viewed below.

2023 O’Neil Lecture, featuring Michelle Singletary

2022 O’Neil Lecture, featuring Susanne Althoff

2021 O’Neil Lecture, featuring Emily Ramshaw and Amanda Zamora