Targeted Training for Business Reporters to Curb Conveyor Belt Journalism

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The recent past has seen the rise of conveyor belt journalism in most news entities across all platforms of radio, television, online and newspapers. Just as its name suggests, it involves conveying news from the source to the audience just as it is. No interrogating facts as presented, no getting the story behind the story, no analysis, or spin-offs from the original story. Just the good old press release that is most likely to cover the topic at hand for that particular time. All these lead to generic news being out there for the audience consumption.

One of the casualties of this kind of journalism has been the Business news which most people think is not popular as compared to the heated noise generated by categories such as politics. It has however, been established that this is not entirely true as business conferences and personalities that have come into the country have generated so much interest from members of the public as evidenced by the raving and sharing on social media platforms.

Some of the cases that come to mind are the coming to Kenya by the founder of Alibaba.com Jack Ma who is the richest man in China. He came with 38 investors eager to invest in the country. The other one is the Global Entrepreneurship Summit that saw Former US president Barack Obama jet into the country with investors.

The reading of the budget is not just a boring monologue by a minister as we used to take it either. Nowadays members of the public keenly follow the proceedings.

Given the interest in business news by businessmen, investors, a techno savvy public, consumers, governments the money and economic stakes involved, it therefore, follows that business reporting should be done well and given the amount time it deserves.

 

Conveyor belt journalism will not work here and this means that the reasons why journalists prefer this kind of reporting need to be interrogated. If it is just plain laziness then that can only be handled at the company level. However, if it is about lack of know-how, stakeholders will have to come together and handle this issue to ensure that there is quality and not just quantity when it comes to news reporting.

Kenya’s technology giant Safaricom noticed this gap and launched the Safaricom Business Journalism Fellowship at the Strathmore Business School. The program is a mid-career professional training that takes in 15 of the best business reporters and takes them through a three-modular program for eight months. At the end of the program, the journalist will be expected to have completed a 30-hour credit course before graduating.

Thanks to this program, journalists are able to interpret the budget on their own without being reduced to parroting the cabinet secretary of finance during its reading every year. Data journalism is also growing as people are able to interpret data which entails hundreds of stories which can determine the current business environment in the country.

They can decipher the current state of the economy which many people quote but have no idea what it means. Sometimes it can be hard for the layman to understand business language and with their journalism skills; it will now be easier to tell the story in a simpler way and have everyone in the living room long after the politics stories are done.

Things become easier when you know what you are doing and just being pulled from the politics or sports desk to go cover the latest stories and getting frustrated in the process because they do not understand anything. Specialization ensures that journalists have a total grasp of what they are reporting and will use press releases to write the skeleton of what they want to report about particular stories while filling the body with in-depth analysis and background.

Well done stories will ensure that the public knows what is going on in their country and accordingly. Visitors will also know where to invest their hard-earned money.