I have learnt more about economic and financial reporting in this one week than I have in the two months I have been at the Business Desk in our newsroom. Stocks, bonds and inflation have never been so easily explained.
That must have been the idea behind the Financial and Economic Reporting course for East African journalists run in the last week of September by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in co-operation with the Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation (NORAD).
And I am not the only participant who left the course with a renewed sense of confidence and zeal for business reporting.
“If our mass communication schools picked a leaf from the training format David White has used, we would not need three years in journalism school,” said Chris Higenyi, a participant from Capital Radio in Kampala, Uganda.
Bernard Tabaire, a trainer with the Africa Centre for Media Excellence in Bunga, Kampala, is more familiar with the East African media environment and was on hand to help David through the course.
The fun exercises and examples helped us to understand the principles and ideas David was explaining. And his secret formula to calculate devaluation will certainly ease much of our work.
“Currencies, bonds, stock markets and inflation were my favourite sessions. At least I now know how to calculate devaluation,” said David Mugwe, a participant from Business Daily in Nairobi, Kenya.
Sitting in one place with so many people who do economic reporting was inspirational in an inexplicable way. We talked about the ethical challenges we face on a day-to-day basis and shared how to overcome them. It turns out the challenges of an economic reporter are alike from country to country.
“The training has been relevant for me. I got general training in journalism but no specialised training in economic reporting. I have never covered the stock market and currencies but now I have the confidence to report on them,” said Alfred Wandera, a correspondent with The East African in Kampala.
The guest speakers also opened our eyes to things that we had not thought of covering widely. Allen Kagina, the Uganda Revenue Authority commissioner general, talked to us about the ways in which Africa can widen its tax base and wean itself off aid and answered all the questions participants had. This was good for the Ugandan journalists particularly because it is rare that they have the Commissioner General available to answer questions. I bet there are many taxation and foreign aid stories going to come out in our media in the near future.
Thomas Richardson, the IMF Senior Resident Representative in Uganda gave us insight into the global economy and a prediction of future economic trends. With this background, it will be easier for participants to report on the global economy and the African economies.
After filing our stories, we could not wait to ‘graduate’ on Friday afternoon and celebrate over dinner.