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Economic reporting key in enabling decisions that impact on development – Masiye

UNIVERSITY of Zambia Dean of School of Humanities and Social Sciences Professor Felix Masiye says financial and economic reporting should be at the centre of journalism. And National Savings and Credit Bank Zambia head of public relations Patricia Luhanga has challenged traditional media to restrategise their management models to keep pace with the advent of social media, which is affecting their business.

During the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa financial journalism training programme stakeholders’ breakfast at InterContinental Hotel in Lusaka yesterday, Prof Masiye said financial and economic reporting was critical in enabling “us to make day-to-day decisions that impact on our development.”

In a statement read for him by Department of Department of Media and Communications acting head Elizabeth Chanda, Prof Masiye said over the years UNZA had continued to thrive due to partnerships forged with external organisations and individuals. He said through such partnerships like the BMIA (Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa), Strathmore and UNILUS, it has successfully completed the first intake of financial journalism training in Lusaka.

“We are currently living in an information age, a time when humanity is largely dependent on information. However, I am sure you will agree with me that there is a lot of information out there that sometimes we don’t really need to know about and yet there is still some information that we all need which is sometimes very critical but is sometimes missing, insufficient, and sometimes not even properly packaged for our consumption,” Prof Masiye said.

“And I am referring to information of finance, business and economics. Financial and economic reporting should be at the centre of journalism. This is critical in enabling us to make day-to-day decisions that impact on our development and the development of the nation as a whole.”

He sad as an economist, he would be very happy when Zambians would be able to understand economic concepts and realise that economics was in everything they do. Prof Masiye said finance and economic reporting was important not only for journalists but also the policy makers and those that work in civil society.

He challenged media organisations to encourage their staff to sign up for the executive training.

“It is in that spirit that I wish to assure you that the University of Zambia will continue to contribute and serve this important initiative with determination and excellence. We believe in this initiative from the time it started and we still believe that it has come in at the right time,” said Prof Masiye.

And in a keynote address, Luhanga said data journalism was coming up now. She said the Southern Africa region had an estimated 300 million people in 16 countries broken down into houses and institutions, each consuming media products differently.

“At the centre of it is the digitalisation that has come on board and as we are talking about these digital platforms that have taken over traditional media, though it is still in existence, what we are seeing is mostly that the media landscape is also keeping pace by ensuring that you are not left behind,” she said.

She challenged traditional media to keep pace with the advent of social media, which was affecting its business. Luhanga also noted that in Zambia, financial and economic reporting has not been elevated to levels it should be. She said the challenge that most journalists face was breaking down business and financial information for the common man. Luhanga called for a holistic picture in the coverage of the country’s affairs in terms of business, economics and finance.

She, however, noted that the private media was coming on board to elevate coverage of financial and economic news. Luhanga noted that while some countries were growing in leaps and bounds, others were falling and others coming out of recession.

“With this then comes the challenge of how do we put the story across? The role of journalism then becomes collecting and analysing this data and disseminating it to stakeholders – policy makers, decision makers, investors – for them to make informed decisions,” Luhanga said.

“And what we need to do is embrace a data driven economy.”

Luhanga said there was need for the country to pay attention to financial journalism because of its critical role in national development. She challenged local universities to consider having financial and economic reporting courses. And Strathmore Business School secretariat director Christine Mwangi said the programme was launched in 2014 and funded by Bloomberg. She explained that the model of the Bloomberg financial journalism training programme was such that a journalism school partners with business school to deliver the programme.

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