Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 August 2021:
A new professional network launches today (4th August 2021), by the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) with the Sierra Leone Reporters Union (SLRU) as an implementing partner, aiming to boost independent news production on business, financial and economic issues in Sierra Leone, by bringing journalists, business people and economists together to share ideas, build expertise and create opportunities for collaboration.
Unmet demand for better business and economics news
With facilitation by Invest Salone, the UK-Government funded private-sector development initiative, the Business and Economic News Network was born out of an interactive dialogue, held in March this year, between the media and the business community, where participants agreed there was a substantial unmet demand for better business and economics reporting in Sierra Leone.
Creating a space where journalists and business professionals can learn from each other
Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, President of SLAJ says that although this area of journalism is essential so that everybody can understand the implications these forces have on our day to day lives, the March dialogue highlighted the challenges journalists face: “The media in Sierra Leone have an important role to play in Sierra Leone’s economic progress, by encouraging dialogue through accurate and timely information on business and economic issues; but there’s a skills gap in the journalism profession and a trust gap between the media and business sectors. These impede good reporting. The SLAJ Business and Economics Network is intended to help provide solutions, by creating a space where journalists and business professionals can learn from each other, share information and explore common ground.”
Good journalism will bring business and economics to life
Amadu Lamrana Bah, President of SLRU and winner of the SLAJ award for best economic reporting in 2018, said: “Good journalism should bring business and economics to life, making stories about these subjects interesting and relevant to all audiences, not just specialists. We look forward to building the network so that it represents one of the most dynamic and exciting fields in journalism in Sierra Leone.”
Membership of the new SLAJ Business and Economics Network is free and open to practising and aspiring journalists, as well as other professions with a genuine interest in collaborating to contribute to a more inclusive economy through improved economic and business reporting in Sierra Leone. Membership benefits are designed to create opportunities for professional learning and recognition, career development, and knowledge sharing, as well as networking and mentoring.
Invest Salone Team Leader, Chukwu-Emeka Chikezie said: “Invest Salone works with the public and private sectors to identify, design, and implement reforms that will reduce the costs and risks of doing business in Sierra Leone. An independent and vibrant press widens the scope for the expression of opinions and ideas outside the government which can help improve policymaking and accountable governance, and enable persuasive advocacy on business issues – all of which would contribute to creating a more enabling business environment and ultimately foster conditions for more inclusive growth, jobs and higher incomes for more Sierra Leoneans.”
How do you join the SLAJ Business and Economics Network
SLAJ and SLRU welcome expressions of interest from journalists stating their name, address, email, and telephone number, with a brief description of areas of interest and professional background.
For further information or to submit your expression of interest, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
A very good initiative. Certainly this will act as a prelude to the eventual establishment of an economic and business information pool for a vibrant and efficient Stock Market System. This brilliant idea also comes with a package of sprouting small and medium enterprises thereby exponentially increasing the private sector and providing essential jobs. However information is a costly product, especially in this intent age, and therefore brings fundamental questions in mind. Is the information free of charge – which is likely improbable? What is price tag of the information bundle? How is this extension of journalism going to be regulated?
There are many challenges that the Business and Economic News Network (BENN) would have to overcome in order to effectively implement this concept, especially when considering the nature of business dealings and the political atmosphere in the country. In a country with relatively less private activities, would this create the opportunity for government interference? Without the full independence of this information industry from government trade-offs, including insider dealings, the prospects of this information hub achieving its intended purpose will be highly unlikely. The London Stock Exchange (LSE) and Wall Street are acquiring global prominence as their foundations are built on integrity and independence from government. Is BENN just a potential subsidiary of LSE?
Business journalism is great, and can’t be ignored by any country that wants to promote business activities, and by extension selling its potential to foreign investors . What you get from reading in the business section of a magazine, or newspaper outlet, can’t be reduced in hundred and forty characters. Is just not enough space to do it, to satisfy your hunger for more information about your business interest. Business journalists are important, because they are able to simplify the jargons so we can get a clear understanding of what a particular business, or investment we are interested is all about. This is especially so, where corruption news is the only diet of information we have grown use to in Sierra leone. And this is not the fault of the reporters, the blame squarely lies with the corrupt political class. We just need a tiny grain of information about doing business in Sierra leone, without the scary stories we hear about our country every day, that dominate our news cycle. If we look at it from government trade policy, environmental issues, legislation related to business, we need business journalists to covey this critical issues that affects our everyday lives with indept, and with precision analysis, that can act as a valuable tool when we make our choices.
For example, how easy it is to set up a small or large business in Sierra leone? Yes social media is important, but it should only be part of the promotional package, not the means to an end. The lunching of this professional network business reporting is a step in the right direction. Clearly what is needed is the training and mentoring of young talented Sierra Leoneans that can mainly “analyse, record, track, and interpret the economic, business, and financial activities, as well as changes, that take place in the our societies”. The Sierra Telegraph has been outstanding in providing us with the best possible business information, and commercial activities that are purely related to the business sector in our country.
In short, if Mr Nasrallah and those wanting to pursue a career in business journalism, want to make this combined business and journalism venture a success, he and his colleagues have to learn one or two lessons from the Sierra Leone Telegraph on how its done. Reports on business opportunities that exist in the country, especially for start ups or SMEs must be completely independent. In the absence of a real opposition to the Bio government, the only voice of reasoning that can amplify the message of doing business in Sierra leone falls to good journalism, and independent minded journalistic practitioners.