Bloomberg funds to boost financial journalism in Africa

The Centre of Economics Journalism in Africa (CEJA) hopes that funding from the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa (BMIA) will soon benefit South Africa by improving the quality of financial journalists trained through the Rhodes University School of Journalism.

Though Rhodes has not yet received any money, broad plans for using the funds to enhance the work of CEJA have already been laid. Indeed, the first convening workshop of all the participants is still being planned.

“Financial journalism is incredibly important because finance is at the heart of economic development and growth,” said CEJA Director, Mr Reginald Rumney. “When things go wrong in the world of finance, things go wrong in the world.”

With this in mind and backed by the philanthropic efforts of Mr Michael Bloomberg, the BMIA will see journalism and communications schools in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa partnering with business schools in each of their regions in order to build media capacity, assemble international leaders and increase access to information. The ultimate intention of the project is to advance transparency, accountability and governance on the continent.

According to the City Press newspaper, financial journalism in three African countries will receive a $10 million (R111 million) injection thanks to former New York mayor and philanthropist Mr Bloomberg.The $10 million will be used over a period of three years. Mr Bloomberg hoped to receive support from the private sector.

Rhodes University will be teaming up with the Gordon Institute of Business Science and aims to use the funds to improve short courses offered for working journalists, develop a curriculum in economics journalism, undertake research, and participate in a fellowship program for current financial journalists. Scholarships are also planned.

“This grant will strengthen the teaching and training of financial journalists at the same time as it gives opportunity for Rhodes JMS to share best practice experiences with colleagues across Africa,” said Director of Highway Africa and facilitator of the meetings which led to CEJA becoming a partner in the BMIA, Mr Chris Kabwato.

For Mr Rumney, economics journalism has the potential to play a fundamental role in improving business accountability to society provided journalists are trained to be critical and reflective in their work.

This belief reflects the hope of funder Michael Bloomberg that timely and accurate reporting of key business and financial matters will help harness opportunities for economic and social growth on the continent.  

 “My aim is to get people excited about economics generally because it affects all our lives, but also to help journalists not get stuck in a rut,” Mr Rumney explained.

Economics journalism, according to him, covers a multitude of issues, ranging from personal financial management and small business entrepreneurship to corporate social responsibility, government policy, and what to do about poverty. All of these have significant social implications and Mr Rumney’s advice for financial journalists is to humanise their stories by focusing on the people.

Should Rhodes University accept the donation, he was clear that no compromises with regards to the academic freedom of the institution will be made. “We will make sure the money works for us,” he said.

He added that current Rhodes university journalism students will also benefit from the funds as they will be able to participate in the teaching of economics journalism at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

“All journalists should know a bit about this,” he added.

By Kyla Hazell

Photo: Mr Reg Rumney, CEJA Director




Source:  Communications and Marketing

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