Journalists in sub-Saharan Africa do not always have the resources to create accurate, probing stories about economics and business. Current media coverage is all too often limited to ‘hard’ or sensationalised news - in some cases, generated by press releases issued by businesses and others with a vested interest.
Economists sometimes lack the communication skills to make important research and other material relevant and available to journalists. As a result, this potentially influential information can fail to reach policy makers, key influencers and the wider public.
These are major factors in the limited reporting of much of the activity and information so vital to the economic development of African states. This includes the growth of the business sector, the undertakings of international financial institutions and NGOs, the activities of banks and foreign investors, and issues related to aid and the environment. A general shortage of information and frequent lack of understanding can compound problems of financial transparency.
This three-year project trains and mentors selected journalists and economic researchers, giving both groups the tools they require, as well as fostering collaboration and improving contact between them.
Sessions are taking place in existing journalism schools and media institutions. A total of 64 people from Kenya and Ghana – 32 journalists and 32 economists – will graduate on completion of the training.
A six-day pilot workshop was held in Nairobi in June, 2009. This trained journalists, economists and others from the financial sector together for the first-ever time in Africa. Participants included journalists from The Nation Media Group, the Nairobi Star, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, The Standard Group and Kiss FM, and economists from the School of Economics at Nairobi University, the Central Bank and the Communications Commission.