A one-day business journalism training workshop organised by NewsBridge Africa, a journalism and communication skills training not-for-profit organisation in collaboration with the World Bank Ghana Country Office was held in Accra Wednesday November 29, 2017. The training was aimed at equipping participants with the requisite knowledge and skills in identifying, gathering, sifting facts, and going beyond conventional business news reporting to digging deeper for facts and reporting about businesses more meaningfully.
The Lead Trainer, Mr. Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, who is the Executive Director of NewsBridge Africa expressed concern about the current state of business journalism in Ghana.
The Columbia University trained journalist, who is a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Business and Economic Journalism at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism says business journalism in Ghana today looks very much like an extension of the marketing campaigns of companies, describing it as event, programme and press release driven, and citing product launches and announcements as examples, he said business reporters must go beyond official statements and comments to unravel the facts behind the numbers and how businesses conduct themselves.
Mr. Dogbevi, who is also the Managing editor of Ghana Business News pointed out the role of the journalist to the participants, saying, journalists ought to shine a light on what is happening to dispel ignorance and also call the society to action, giving reasons for the action or the benefits of the action.
He further pointed out that the role of the journalist is to seek the truth in the public interest and also hold authorities to account, adding that the same principles should be applied in business reporting.
“The main concern of the business journalist should be whether businesses are running on established regulations and laws guiding their operations,” he said.
Subjects such as tax avoidance, profit shifting, tax havens, shell companies, shelf companies, trade misinvoicing and over-invoicing and illicit financial flows were explained to the participants. According to Mr. Dogbevi, these practices cost developing countries lots of money that otherwise could have been used for development.
Mr. Dogbevi stressed the need for thorough work and fact-checking on the part of journalists, “Look at the numbers, the financial statement. Dig deeper by asking more questions, ask for clarifications. Get to know the happenings at board meetings, look into corporate governance issues,” he told the participants.
Mr. Prince Akpesey, an investment consultant took participants through how to read financial statements. He showed them how to spot manipulations in financial reports. He told participants that the financial statement of a company contains enough information needed for a story.
Most participants at the end described the workshop as insightful and said they have acquired new skills.
By Solomon Otu Mensah and Francis Ntow