Greg Mankiw's view: they don't take enough economics in college:
Greg Mankiw's Blog: How to Improve Journalism: There are probably many reasons why the quality of economics journalism is not better than it is, but an article in today's Wall Street Journal suggests one of the problems:
According to the forthcoming book "The American Journalist in the 21st Century," 36.2% of journalists with college degrees were journalism majors. If you include journalism-related "communications" majors, the percentage jumps to 49.5.... [T]there's a heavy emphasis on process and theory... classes such as Principles of Civic Journalism, Topics in Public Affairs Journalism or Industry Research Methods.
In short, many journalists simply do not have sufficient training to do a good job.
Here's my radical suggestion to the editors of the world: Require all your economics reporters to have an undergraduate degree in economics. And give a raise to those who spent the extra year or two getting a master's in economics as well. (We don't have such a program at Harvard, but there is a good one at the LSE.)
Economics is a technical field that cannot be easily learned on the fly. Unfortunately, that is often what economics journalists try to do.
I'm sure Greg's proposal would produce articles I would like a lot more. While (somewhat) sufficient, however, is it necessary? What proportion of the WSJ news reporters or the FT reporters were economics majors?