RECENTLY Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa (BMIA) launched its Financial Journalism Training aimed at advancing business and financial reporting in Zambia with more than 50 delegates taking part in the first intake.
The training which is being offered in partnership with the University of Lusaka, Business School, and the University of Zambia’s Department of Media and Communication could not have come at a better time than this when the media in Zambia is faced with the challenge of providing relevant, in-depth and analytical reporting of the dynamic economic trends.
The training also comes at a time when the media seems to be at the edge of losing trust due to what is termed as shallow reporting and emergency of fake news.
Many stakeholders including government have been concerned at the lack of professionalism by some practicing journalists.
While there are many factors that play into unprofessional conduct by journalists, certainly lack or inadequate training has it its own slot in the equation.
As rightly observed by Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, Dora Siliya, the Zambian economy like is the trend globally, is constantly evolving and changing. The need for journalists to keep abreast of new economic trends cannot be overemphasised.
The media cannot afford to keep on relying on old techniques and ways of reporting.
Much more that financial reporting is a specialized field, it is inevitable for journalists to actively pursue new knowledge on how to adequately and competently report on financial matters.
The Bloomberg Financial Journalism Training is offering just that.
Through the six months training, delegates will spend 19 days in sessions led by prominent faculty at the two local universities and will cover topics on data analysis, capital markets, accounting, public policy, economics and journalism.
From topics on offer, it is indisputable that the training is game changer as it will help raise the bar of financial reporting from merely relaying messages to interpreting and analyzing various economic issues.
This is a link that has been missing for a long time.
It is good that the training apart from granting the delegates access to a wealth of financial information will also expose them to leading financial journalism experts from across the globe.
This will ensure a balance in impartation of theory as well as practical knowledge.
Delegates will be able to draw practical lessons from some of the financial experts who have walked the financial journalism reporting route.
It is worth noting that the programme is already making positive impact in countries where it has been rolled out
The training programme was previously offered in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa graduating more than 500 delegates. The programme was also recently expanded to Ghana.
According to Erana Stennett, Director, BMIA the programme has had positive impact in other markets and is hopeful that it will enhance the development, quality, accuracy and impact of the financial journalism field in Africa.
Since its launch, BMIA has reached more than 1,000 stakeholders in Africa, with delegates from 13 countries graduating from the BMIA Financial Journalism Training Program.
The training Programme is a core component of the BMIA, which aims to contribute to the advancement of business and financial reporting in Africa.
This is in recognition of the important role the media plays in promoting transparency, accountability and good governance. While the BMIA is a project of Bloomberg Philanthropies the training program in Zambia will also be supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
“We are very excited to see the start of this new phase of the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa Financial Journalism Training program.
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) is proud to partner with Bloomberg in helping equip a global talent pool of journalists with the sort of specialist expertise that can drive them towards attaining a high level of professional excellence.
This is the basis of a robust, ethical, independent press, which now seems to be more critical than ever,” said Andreas Dracopoulos, co-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
Given that we are living in an era where anyone can assume the role of disseminating information which has greatly contributed to an upsurge in misinformation and fake news, the need for journalists to distinguish themselves as credible and professional disseminators of information cannot be over emphasised.
It is therefore hoped that more Zambian journalists will seize this golden opportunity which has been delivered right at their door step.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail Editorials Editor.