USCET launched its inaugural FMI in a climate marked by liberalization in the news media but also several high-profile arrests, attempts to control access to the internet, and increasing but controversial investigative reporting. The Institute, an intensive 10-day series of lectures and practical assignments, offered 4th year and graduate journalism students a window on how financial journalism is practiced in the US, arming them with basic knowledge about economics and finance and enhancing their reporting skills.
Institute directors Terence Smith (formerly with PBS) and Al Kamen (The Washington Post) led 24 students through the course, reviewing three reporting assignments and facilitating discussions on topics such as journalistic ethics and reporting techniques. A dozen other guest lecturers covered topics ranging from economic theory to getting a job in journalism. Guest lecturers hailed from a diverse range of institutions including The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Financial Times, Money Weekly, South China Morning Post, Shanghai Media Group, Pudong Development Bank, China Business Network, Fudan University, Shanghai Finance University, and the University of Maryland Smith School of Business.
Field trips to media conglomerate China Business Network and to a GM automotive plant gave students an opportunity to get out of the classroom and apply their new skills in a practical setting. Participants were satisfied with the FMI experience, but exhausted after ten intensive days, leading to future FMIs lasting seven days instead of ten.