By Alexander Ekemenah
The Nigerian media has come a long way in its history and evolution. It has experienced beautiful and challenging times. It has also witnessed successes and failures. Yet, it is arguably the most vibrant and independent in character in Africa. It has not only survived harsh economic conditions but it has also survived government attacks from authoritarian and repressive regimes over the decades.
The soft-power position of the Nigerian media is far-reaching in its penetration into the ramified networks of the socio-economic, political and cultural formation. It has challenged and overthrown conventions, traditions and institutions by its trail-blazing news reportage, opening of debates on pressing socio-economic issues, analyses of complex issues, entertainment and even gossip.
But over the last few years, something has been discovered to be missing from the matrix of news reportage and other media activities in Nigeria and, by extension, Africa: capacity-building and skills required for intelligence reporting which embrace financial journalism, business and economic intelligence analysis.
As the world economy becomes not only complex but more globalized, the need to understand the trending issues, nuances and genres becomes very important. Financial journalism occupies a crucial strategic position within this matrix.
Another discovery is that the current crop of journalists is not empowered strongly enough to undertake this arduous task of mastering the intricacies of financial and economic analysis in the era of global economic and political vulnerability, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.
The existing training institutes for media practitioners barely touch some of the modern socio-economic issues germane to the current status of the media in Nigeria and Africa. In other words, it is evident that Nigeria is lagging behind in the modern or post-modern intellectual training and development of media practitioners in the various branches of media practice.
Indeed, apart from workshops and conferences organized by individuals and corporate bodies, hardly can one point to any other visible training institute to cater for the pressing demands of media practitioners for professionalism in their various beats.
Thus when the Centre for Financial Journalism (CFJ Nigeria) was launched on March 17, 2016 at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, it came as a big bang like fresh oceanic breeze from the Lagos Lagoon blowing across the media industry in Nigeria. Apart from the throng of people it attracted to its formal launch, the idea behind it is worth critical interrogation against the background of the lacuna that has hitherto existed in this area. The over-filled hall was a testimony that this idea has come to take permanent residence in the life of the media industry in Nigeria.
It has been said time and again that ideas rule the world. The essence of an idea, either in the humanistic or scientific field, is that it must be larger in life than its originator. But what makes the idea of CFJ Nigeria more potent in its versatility is its board which comprises a former central banker, a professor of economics, chartered banker, management consultant/corporate titan, chartered accountant, and development economist-turned-financial journalist.
Surveying the development of the media industry in Nigeria over the past six decades, with particular reference to financial journalism, it is obvious that Centre for Financial Journalism has come at a time the country requires and needs its professional services, of which the wisdom of the idea behind it will now be a driver for its subsequent activities.
In the globalized and interconnected world through modern inventions in information and communication technology; in the era of users’ names and passwords; in the era of i-phones and i-pads and other sophisticated devices with which modern financial services are being transacted, nobody would doubt the wisdom and timely arrival of Centre for Financial Journalism as the beginning of a new epoch in financial journalism and journalism in general in Nigeria and Africa.
Centre for Financial Journalism came as an intervention and driver of financial reporting, to bring practical standards and ethics into this branch of media practice where it has been observed over the years that we are lagging behind in theoretical understanding, analysis and reporting.
Financial journalists must not only report finance, business and economy; they must understand them in terms of theory and practice and also the various methodologies involved in reporting them. The era of cut-and-paste of financial information is already dying out and will soon do so completely in a couple of years. Therefore, any journalist that wants to be reporting financial matters must re-empower and re-configure himself/herself for the brave new world of financial reporting. The Centre for Financial Journalism has come to serve as bridge in this respect.
The vision of CFJ Nigeria is to be the prime capacity-building platform for financial journalism in Nigeria with a mission to raise the standard of the practice of financial journalism in the country through quality training programmes and research.
The objectives are globalized and post-modern in this respect: to conduct cutting-edge research in financial journalism, financial markets, business and economy, etc. The Centre is aiming to provide training services for financial journalists and other stakeholders in financial journalism; mentoring new entrants into the field of financial journalism; raising a significant number of highly skilled financial journalists; provision of research services on financial journalism for stakeholders, especially newspapers, magazines, television stations, radio stations, news agencies, online publications, business organizations, government agencies and international agencies; advancement of financial journalism in Nigeria through training programmes, seminars, workshops, lectures and conferences; and exploring opportunities for partnership with individuals, local and international organizations that are committed to raising the quality of financial journalism.
These laudable objectives are expected to be carried out through training programmes, open courses, in-plant courses, sponsored programmes, etc. The faculty is made up of seasoned journalists, financial experts, economists, lawyers, development experts, bankers, management consultants, IT experts and other highly-skilled professionals in fields relevant to the advancement of journalism.
In the next few weeks, the Centre will roll out its programmes for journalists across the length and breadth of the country and Africa. The Centre, like its founder, Ray Echebiri said, has come to change the face of financial journalism in the country for good.