Media Working Group Helps Prepare Roll-out of Training Modules for Business Journalists
June 6-7, Paris, France - Media training organizations and practitioners joined with IFC staff to strategize on future steps to deepen and expand the IFC Global Corporate Governance Forum’s program for training reporters and editors on how to cover corporate governance issues.
Throughout the discussions, participants stressed the initiative’s value. So far, more than 300 journalists worldwide have participated in training conducted through partnerships that involved media development institutions and IFC regional corporate governance advisory services.
"The role of the press is to provide honest and accurate reporting about the decisions made by corporations and their executives,'' said Leslie Wayne, a former New York Times business reporter who teaches journalism at Columbia University (USA) and Tsinghua University (China). "Reporters need to be educated and informed on what is going on in the boardroom in order to write clearly and let the world know. All the issues that were raised at the corporate governance session - especially training and education - are so important to elevate the quality of global journalism on this important topic."
For the working group, the Forum produced four training modules. The first provides the basics of corporate governance, the second probes the subject in-depth, the third examines how journalists can find stories in companies’ financial statements, and the fourth surveys the corporate governance issues unique to state-owned and family-owned companies.
Each module demonstrates how issues involving corporate governance issues are stories for journalists – from struggles over succession of a company to the hiding of a company’s losses to the siphoning of financial assets from a company to family members.
In breakout sessions, participants reviewed the modules and then reported their recommendations. All stressed the value of having training modules that could then be “localized” for training in countries and regions. The Forum will use the recommendations in revising the modules before piloting them with selected partners this fall.
The working group also offered a broad range of suggestions to help the IFC Global Corporate Governance Forum broaden and deepen media training in four areas:
Fine-tune the modular design of training materials – this allows partners to customize the training modules to meet local needs.
Inventory journalism organizations, journalism schools, and training programs – to compile a list of organizations that either train journalists or who focus on journalists’ issues, and could serve as potential partners for IFC media training efforts. These could be, among others, press clubs, schools of journalism, media advocacy groups, and professional societies for journalists.
Share success stories – examples of training programs that exceeded expectations would encourage others to replicate these efforts.
Emphasize “localization” – each country and region has unique issues. Journalists will be singularly focused on those issues if they are to produce stories their audience will read or listen to.
“An active media, raising questions about how companies make decisions and whether those decisions are in the shareholders’ best interests – this is an important part of the principle driving this initiative, specifically the media as a watchdog and an educator,” said Peter Montagnon (pictured), who co-chaired the meeting. “Transparency and accountability cannot be achieved if information about how a company is run is not made public,” said Olli Virtanen, the meeting’s other co-chair. “Journalists need help in how to dig for stories.”
The participants included representatives from the Asia Center for Journalists, the Center for International Private Enterprise (United States), the Independent Journalism Center (Moldova), Internews, the publication Capital Aberto (Brazil), and the Africa Media Initiative, among others.