THERE WILL BE INK. A study of journalism training and the extractive industries in Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda

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1 THERE WILL BE INK A study of journalism training and the extractive industries in Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda Ben Colmery Adriana Diaz Emily Gann Rebekah Heacock Jonathan Hulland Eamon Kircher-Allen

2 Cover photo: Darksida, photographer. Untitled photograph From:

3 Acknowledgements This paper has benefited from the generous contributions of many individuals and organizations. We would like to thank in particular the Revenue Watch Institute for commissioning the project and for sponsoring our research. Thomson Reuters also provided valuable financial support. We would also like to thank the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), as well as the faculty and staff of the Economic and Political Development concentration, for their work in organizing the Workshop in Development Practice, the course under which this project falls. We recognize the work of our faculty advisor, Anya Schiffrin, who conceptualized this project and guided us through every stage of our work. We thank her for the immense amount of time and effort she has dedicated to this project over the past year. Finally, we would like to thank the many current and former journalists who met with us and shared their thoughts and experiences. Without them, this report would not be possible.

4 Table of Contents Executive Summary 1 Introduction 2 Existing International Training Opportunities 5 Nigeria.8 Background...9 Challenges to Journalism in Nigeria 14 The Impact of Training Programs 24 Notes on conducting research in Nigeria.33 Ghana Background.36 Challenges to Journalism in Ghana.44 The Impact of Training Programs..50 Notes on conducting research in Ghana.55 Uganda..56 Background.57 Challenges to Journalism in Uganda 60 The Impact of Training Programs 64 Notes on conducting research in Uganda 69 Recommendations...70 Recommendations for Revenue Watch Institute.71 Recommendations for Nigeria.71 Recommendations for Ghana..80 Recommendations for Uganda 85 Appendix A: Nigeria.88 Appendix B: Ghana..95 Appendix C: Uganda 97 Appendix D: Interview Questions...99 Appendix E: Survey Questions. 102 Appendix F: Selected Survey Data


6 List of Charts Chart 1: Challenges for Nigerian Journalists 14 Chart 2: Challenges for Nigerian Journalists who cover the extractive industries.24 Chart 3: Challenges for Ghanaian Journalists...45 Chart 4: Challenges for Ugandan Journalists 61 Chart 5: Training topics for Nigeria.76 Chart 6: Training topics for Ghana..82 Chart 7: Training topics for Uganda 86

7 Executive Summary Purpose of the Report This report is intended to serve as a guide for organizations considering establishing journalisttraining programs in Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda. The report provides an overview of the challenges and opportunities in the journalism profession in these three countries. Generalizations across countries are difficult. Thus, we encourage anyone making use of this report for program planning to consider the findings on each country as a distinct entity. Background There is vibrant, multi-platform media in all of the countries of the study. Each country has a mix of state-owned and independent media. Media independence from government varies from one country to the other. In terms of content, there is a broad range of quality. But little of the journalism on economics and the extractive industries offers deep analysis and expertise. The extractive industries are of different sizes and development in each country. Nigeria has a welldeveloped oil sector that dominates its economy. Ghana has a large mining sector, and recent offshore oil discoveries indicate that its oil sector will greatly expand. Uganda does not have a large extractives industry, but also has recently discovered oil, which is likely to play a large role in the economy in the future. Challenges Facing Journalists Journalists suffer from a variety of obstacles to their jobs in all three countries, including: Poor pay Access to information In all the countries studied, journalists face problems obtaining information from both government and business sources. Pressure from government or business Media freedom varies widely from country to country, but bribery of journalists is common everywhere. Lack of technology Lack of skills Impact of Training Across countries, journalists had an overwhelmingly positive view of training programs. Journalists said that training significantly improved their writing. Solving the skills deficit in their reporting made it easier for journalists to address the other challenges to their work. However, training does not always lead to better journalism, principally because it only addresses one challenge (a lack of skills) of the many facing journalists in these countries. Recommendations Many factors are important in improving journalism, but it is clear that training is a key strategy. Our study shows that training programs for journalists covering the extractives can have a strong, positive effect. Most recommendations are country-specific, but a few are relevant to all three countries: Provide both local and international perspectives Offer financial assistance to make attendance feasible Incorporate training on understanding content and general reporting skills 1

8 Follow-up with training participants Introduction Purpose and Scope of the Project In the Fall of 2008, the International Media and Communications program at Columbia University s School of International and Public Affairs proposed writing a report on the state of journalism in three Anglophone African countries Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda that have growing or established extractive industries. In close partnership with Revenue Watch International, the project moved forward. The idea evolved into a report that would serve as a guide for organizations considering establishing journalist-training programs in these countries. This report, then, is intended to provide an overview of the challenges and opportunities in the journalism profession in these three countries. It especially seeks to shed light on the question of whether programs that train journalists can improve reporting on the extractive industries, and if so, what kinds of training are most effective. Journalism covering the extractive industries including oil, mining and gas is of particular interest to anyone who believes that transparency in governance, business and politics is an important aspect of development in Africa. Much is made in development literature of the resource curse the idea that when a large proportion of a country s economy relies on the extraction of a single natural resource, it can retard the country s development. However, a glance around the world reveals that not all resource-reliant countries suffer from the same development problems, if they do at all. In Africa more than any other continent, the extractive industries seem to be consistently tied to inequality, strife and underdevelopment. African countries unique problems point to their common history as colonized lands. European powers designed their colonies land-ownership norms, political boundaries, institutions and economies to facilitate exploitation not development. Even as African countries broke free of their colonizers, they inherited many of these arrangements. It may be symptomatic of this history that, in contrast to other oil producing regions, where oil exploitation is a state-owned venture, it is almost completely dependent on foreign investment, especially from U.S. companies, in West and Central Africa. 1 It is an assumption of this report s authors that a thriving journalism profession can be an important part of improving this situation. Good journalism and active media consumers will help citizens be better informed about the relationship between extractive industries, government and the broader economy. Journalists can reveal revenue flows and decision-making processes that affect entire countries. With this knowledge, citizens can play more active roles in their countries destinies and make their resources a blessing rather than a curse. This report examines the experiences, opinions and recommendations of nearly 100 professional journalists, academics and media experts in Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda. Our interviews focused on painting a fuller picture of the media landscape, challenges journalists face and lessons learned from past trainings in each country. We especially targeted business and economic journalists who had taken part in training programs, for two reasons. One, journalists who currently specialize in the extractives are a relative rarity in these countries. Two, there have been a dearth of trainings for 1 Duffield, John S., Over a Barrel: the Costs of U.S. Foreign Oil Dependence, 2008, p

9 journalists in these countries that focus exclusively on the extractives. We felt that findings on business journalism could easily be applied to journalism on the extractives. Indeed, in countries like Nigeria, it is impossible to cover the economy without covering the extractives. Much has been written about the challenges facing journalists in the countries we visited. Our research, we believe, has refreshed that knowledge and deepened it with personal accounts from people in the industry. What is unique to our project is our canvassing of journalist training programs in Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda, an effort that has not, to our knowledge, been previously attempted. We wish to be extremely careful when speaking about the findings of this report in a general sense. A common fallacy in much writing about Africa is the tendency to generalize about countries across the continent. The three countries in our study have distinct histories and political and economic climates. There are huge differences in the size of each country s populations and in the specific hurdles each faces in achieving development goals. In fact, the countries do not even necessarily share all the same goals. The countries do have some things in common. Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda are all English-speaking African countries whose extractive industries form an important part of their respective economies. The United Nations Development Program s Human Development Report of 2007/2008 categorizes all three as low developed countries. 2 Other than these similarities, there are large and important differences between the countries contexts. Methodology A team of six students and one professor conducted the research over the course of the winter and spring of One student each traveled to Ghana and Uganda, while four traveled to Nigeria, which has by far the largest population, extractive industry and media industry of the three countries. Researchers visited Ghana, Uganda and Nigeria for two weeks in January 2009, and made a second trip to Nigeria for two weeks in March Researchers used standardized interview formats for most interviewees. There were different questions for journalists who had reported on the extractive industries and for those who had not, and a separate set of questions for editors. Questions were divided into two main categories: challenges that journalists face in their jobs, and their reflections on training programs in which they had participated. Interview questions are attached to this report in Appendix D. These standardized interviews lasted between 45 minutes and an hour and a half each. Researches conducted most interviews at the offices of publications and media outlets. We made an effort, however, to avoid interviewing journalists in the presence of superiors, as we felt this could influence their answers. We conducted some interviews by international phone calls, and where possible we have indicated this in the report. Please note that interviewee quotes are presented in several different ways throughout this report. Some journalists and professionals agreed to be interviewed only on the condition that their names are kept confidential. Thus we have named some interviewees but given general descriptions to others. 2 United Nations Development Program Human Development Report 2007/2008, 3

10 The goal of the standardized interviews was to generate qualitative data that could be compared. In some cases, when researchers had the chance to interview a journalist or professional who was not involved in reporting on business, economics or the extractive industries, or who had not undergone training, researchers devised ad hoc interview questions. (These interviews, as it turns out, generated some of the most interesting answers.) As interviewers, we were careful about how we presented the purpose and possible outcome of our research. We told interviewees that we were students trying to determine whether journalism training would be valuable for journalists covering the extractive industries, and that we were working with RWI to write a report with recommendations for possible journalism training programs. We never indicated that such a program was planned or that we were looking for participants. In addition to our qualitative interviews, we quantified our findings with a survey, which many of the journalists who had received training in the past completed. The number of journalists who completed the survey is fewer than the total number we talked to, because the survey was much more precise and was not relevant to every journalist s experience. With the survey, we do not claim to have completed a hard and fast statistical description of journalists feelings about trainings, but rather a statistical illustration that helps to highlight some of the impressions and analyses we drew from our interview. In addition, the surveys helped provide some interesting cumulative data on, for example, journalists years in higher education. Survey questions are attached to this report in Appendix E. 4

11 Existing International Training Opportunities Thomson Reuters Foundation The foundation has offered journalism training programs in Africa for many years. Some of Thomson Reuters training programs for African journalists are held on the continent and last for a few weeks. These programs draw journalists from different African countries. Other programs are held in Britain. Our researchers encountered fewer journalists trained by Thomson Reuters than by some other programs, though the organization is one of the more prominent ones offering training. Training graduates held Thomson Reuters in high regard. There are two broad themes in Thomson Reuters s program curriculum: (1) general writing and reporting skills and (2) in-depth sessions on specific subjects, such as understanding budgets and different industries. A report by News Agency of Nigeria journalist Adeleye Ajayi on a 2008 Thomson Reuters training in London shows that, in addition to sessions focusing on technical information like understanding central banks and interest rates, the Reuters training devoted a good deal of time to training on basic journalistic writing skills. Field trips like one to the Reuters newsroom and one to the European Bank for Economic Reconstruction and Development were a major part of the training, as they were in other Thomson Reuters programs that journalists we spoke to attended. A feature of the Thomson Reuters programs that interviewees especially liked was the collection of many journalists from different countries, which they described as a networking and learning opportunity. In 2009, Thomson Reuters held introductory business training programs in six different African countries. It used the introductory trainings to select a group of 20 journalists, who demonstrate the greatest potential who would then be invited to participate in trainings in a global financial center: London, Paris or Lisbon. A partnership with the Investment Climate Facility funded all trainings. BBC World Service Trust The trust offers training programs for journalists in several African countries, including Angola, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Sudan. The trainings are usually of a short duration one to two weeks and are held in-country. Most BBC Trust programs focus on broadcast media. Trainings are generally organized around a theme, such as helping to raise awareness about HIV or encouraging government accountability. Cardiff University School of Journalism, Master of Arts in International Journalism Cardiff s two-semester program includes the core modules of Information Gathering and Analysis I and II, which examine basic business and economic concepts; effective use of figures; how to read and understand public documents (e.g. government papers, company reports); techniques of interviewing for writing and research; the techniques employed by investigative journalists and the ethical and legal issues they sometimes raise. This program also has an optional half-module that 5

12 includes Reporting Business, Finance and Economics. The Cardiff program is quite expensive, which greatly limits participation, and explains why few of our journalists obtained degrees abroad. United States Consulate Public Affairs The United States Consulate Public Affairs section offers trainings which are tailored around current events in the country, such as Election Monitoring in 2006 in the lead up to the 2007 election. Their programs tend to be one-off trainings, determined by the priorities of the U.S. State Department. They are currently in the preliminary steps of organizing a business and economic reporting training that will be co-sponsored by Ruyi Communications, set to begin in The U.S. Consulate trainers are usually teams of American expatriate journalists and local journalists. They hold breakout sessions based on medium (print, radio, and broadcast) to facilitate interaction between journalists and trainers. Their participants are gathered via letters of invitation to local media houses, and determined by editor selection. The India Institute of Mass Communication s (IIMC) Development Journalism Program The Development Journalism program at IIMC runs four months in length and gathers journalists in New Delhi, India, with others from around the world. Business Day regularly sends journalists to this program. According to the publisher of Business Day, this program is the best journalism training program he has seen in the developing world. Courses include: National Economic Development and Globalization Co-operation among Developing Countries International Financial and Monetary Institutions, Bilateral, Regional and Multilateral Trade Agreements and WTO Economic Indicators and Price Indices; National Budget and Public Finance Communication and Development Role of Mass Media in Developing Countries News Exchange Arrangements Bilateral, Regional, Multilateral and Non-aligned News Agencies Pool New Information Technologies The International Institute for Journalism s Economic and Financial Reporting Program The IIJ runs two months in length and is held in Berlin, Germany. The program combines lectures, discussions and exercises, with a strong emphasis on practical work. The participants write reports and features that are analyzed during the training to improve journalistic quality. They also go on tours of local businesses as well as financial and research institutions. The program typically covers: Business News Writing, Essential Statistics The Logic of Accounting, Reporting Companies Reporting Markets 6

13 Consumer Affairs and Information Reporting National Budgets and Economic Policies Covering the Central Bank, Commercial Banks and Financial Markets Economic Integration and Regional Organizations The International Financial System The World Trade System, Global Economic Issues Writing Feature Stories The journalists we spoke with highly praised the format and teaching methods of the IIJ program. They emphasized the value of having experienced practitioners teach at the trainings and the networking opportunities that the trainings provided, allowing participants to connect with journalists and policymakers from around the world. A former journalist from Business Day praised the opportunity to interact with real players in the international system, such as members of the UN, WTO and IMF. This journalist said that the IIJ seeks out the strongest journalists at the trainings and mentors them, which significantly sets it apart from other training organizations, and has made him a top business journalist. Because of the IIJ s mentoring, he was invited to attend other trainings around the world, where he was able to further expand his network of contacts. The more you travel, the more you are valued in Nigeria because you bring the global perspective, he said. In 2006, he was able to attend a WTO conference in Hong Kong though the IIJ, which he covered for Business Day in Nigeria. Business Day would never have had the resources to send a reporter to Hong Kong, he said. Moreover, the IIJ provides much-needed financial support for trainees to attend. 7

14 Nigeria 8

15 Background 3 Of the three countries in this study, Nigeria stands out as the largest (with a population of nearly 150 million) and most diverse. It also has the largest and most robust media in Anglophone West Africa, with scores of publications, TV stations and radio stations. Additionally, it has by far the largest and most developed extractives industry of the countries in this study. The size and complexity of the research on Nigeria thus exceeded that on Ghana and Uganda. More researchers traveled to Nigeria and spent more hours there conducting interviews. Because Nigeria has a big, diverse and generally well-funded news media, it can in some respects offer a model for smaller countries with more limited news media. On the other hand, because of the notorious way that oil has complicated Nigerian politics, economics and journalism, some aspects of the Nigerian experience can also serve as a warning to countries with nascent extractive industries. Since its inception, the Nigerian oil industry, which is one of the largest in the world and is the lynchpin of the country s economy, has shown a deep lack of transparency. This is partly because of Nigeria s youth as a political entity British colonizers did not bind its vast lands and disparate peoples together until Some authors have speculated that Nigeria s late and forced creation meant it did not have the unity to resist oil exploitation arrangements that have not been as beneficial to the country as they could have been. Regional, local and personal considerations culminating in the staggeringly corrupt regime of military dictator General Soni Abacha in the 1990s trumped national interest in oil contracts negotiations. Additionally, oil exploitation in Nigeria mirrors the arrangements for the extraction of a different oil palm oil which was a main export in colonial times. 4 As in that era, contemporary petroleum drilling is owned and managed by foreign companies. Unlike in other parts of the oil-rich world, the Nigerian oil industry is almost wholly dependent on foreign direct investment. 5 There have been many well documented negative consequences from this situation, and Nigeria s years of repressive military rule have not helped. Effects include high levels of corruption, oil wealth that Nigerians do not enjoy equally and an industry that provides a huge cash flow to the state but directly employs relatively few Nigerians. In fact, despite its oil wealth and its role as the banking capital of West Africa, Nigeria scores significantly lower than both Ghana and Uganda on the United Nations human development index. 6 It is impossible to know whether a more active, freer and more capable press could have helped avert the more unfortunate aspects of Nigeria s history, but it seems likely that it could not have hurt. In contemporary, democratic Nigeria, good media and broader, popular understanding of the oil industry could likely be ingredients in a recipe for empowering Nigerians to enjoy the immense wealth of their natural resources. 3 Photo on previous page: Colombant, Nico, photographer. Selling Gas on Side of Road, Nigeria, Photograph From: Flickr: usnico's photostream, 4 A Swamp Full of Dollars, the forthcoming book by The Financial Times Nigeria correspondent, Michael Peel, describes the history of the Nigerian oil industry that is paraphrased here. 5 Duffield, John S., Over a Barrel: the Costs of U.S. Foreign Oil Dependence, United Nations Development Program Human Development Report 2007/2008, 9

16 Literacy and Education Nigeria instituted a universal primary education policy in 1979 that requires at least six years of primary school attendance. UNESCO reports that 5 percent of Nigeria s GDP is spent on education, which is about average for the region. 7 In 2005, 63.4 percent of Nigeria s primary schoolaged children were enrolled and 75.6 percent of those enrolled completed their primary education. 8 While overall Nigeria has relatively greater equality with respect to gender and primary school enrollment than most of its West African neighbors, the gender gap is still wide in the primarily Muslim areas of Northern Nigeria. 9 Nigerian literacy is on the rise, but the urban-rural disparity in literacy influences the distribution of media consumption throughout the country. 10 Compared to 84.9 percent of urban Nigerians, only 62.1 percent of rural Nigerians can read and write. 11 Media consumption outside Nigeria s cities is largely broadcast focused. Radio journalism dominates rural areas. Eighty-two percent of Nigerians own a radio whereas just 32 percent own a television set. 12 Radio news reaches more Nigerians than print news. Voice of America and BBC radio are the only main alternatives to state-owned radio news, as few community radio stations exist. Extractive Industry Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa, and one of the ten largest oil producers in the world. According to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative s (EITI) website, Nigeria s recoverable reserves were estimated at 34 billion barrels in Oil production accounts for about half of Nigeria s GDP, more than 95 percent of export receipts, and over 80 percent of government revenue. Nigeria s oil sector is dominated by joint operations between the Nigerian government and six major international oil companies Shell, Mobil, Chevron, Agip, Elf, and Texaco. 13 Nigeria also holds large reserves of natural gas, among the ten largest in the world, but gas production is much less important to the economy than oil production. Nigeria also has abundant mineral resources, though these have yet to be fully exploited given the country s easy access to oil and gas. Oil production has been Nigeria s main economic driver since the country became independent from Britain in 1960, although the oil industry did not dramatically expand until the boom of the 1970s. Today, Nigeria s GDP per head stands at $1,794, high for sub-saharan Africa, but low considering Nigeria s tremendous oil wealth and sales. 14 Current economic growth is quite brisk, with estimates ranging from 6.7 percent to 8 percent. Nevertheless, Nigeria has also become the poster child for the resource curse, with much of the country mired in poverty and inequality; 7 United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organization. 8 UNICEF. 9 World Bank. UNICEF. 10 All literacy rates in this report represent the percentage of the population over age 15 that can read and write, from the World Bank s definition. 11 United Nations Development Program. 12 The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Vol 8, No 2 (2007), ISSN: Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative website, Nigeria page. Accessed 12 December 2008: 14 Factsheet on Nigeria, The Economist, 25 November Accessed 12 December 2008: 10

17 pervasive conflict in the Niger Delta and social tensions in other parts of the country sometimes explode into violence. According to BBC News s Nigeria Country Profile, the trade in stolen oil has fuelled violence and corruption in the Niger Delta the home of the industry. Few Nigerians, including those in oil-producing areas, have benefited from the oil wealth. 15 That said, Nigeria is relatively stable, with a democratically elected government with at least a stated commitment to democracy and the rule of law. Nigeria was accepted as an EITI candidate country in September According to Nigeria s EITI (NEITI), its Secretariat has undertaken measures to deepen awareness about the implementation of NEITI and to build capacity within government and civil society, including training workshops for civil society and the media. Niger Delta The Niger Delta region, from which most of the country s oil originates, is an exception to the more or less secure environment that prevails in most of the country. In the Delta, the threat of violence against journalists at the hands of police and rebels or armed gangs remains very real. Thus, the Niger Delta presents challenges to good journalism that far exceed other regions of Nigeria. The underlying problems in the Delta are well known. Local people have resisted the presence of oil companies in the region, saying that they feel their resources are being plundered without proper compensation. There is also much money to be made in the siphoning off of oil. Violence and kidnappings are common in the region. Against the trend in Lagos, at least, the security situation in the Niger Delta seems to be worsening. Toward the end of 2008, Delta militants and government forces engaged in some of the worst fighting to date. The violence has spread to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. Piracy is also on the rise in the region in 2008, only Somalia had worse water security than Nigeria. 16 Things have not improved in 2009: according to Voice of America, there were 128 kidnappings in the first four months of 2009 alone. 17 While oil workers are the most frequent targets, the Niger Delta s insecurity makes journalism in the region increasingly difficult. Many foreign journalists and filmmakers have been arrested in the region and in 2007 two gunmen entered the Niger Delta bureau for the Punch newspaper in an attempt to kidnap a staff member. 18 Telecommunications Internet access is available in most hotels and businesses, but it is slow and costly. Because the Internet is expensive, Nigerians rely heavily on cell phones. Many Nigerians have two cell phones, one with each major carrier, so that when one carrier s signal is down they have a back up. So far, Internet access in Nigeria has been routed through hubs in Europe or the United States, which is significantly more expensive than routing it through submarine cables. Nigeria s bandwidth may soon be improved, as its second largest telecom provider plans to lay Nigeria s first submarine telecom cable in Country Profile: Nigeria, BBC News, 5 December Accessed 12 December 2008: 16 Nigeria: Seizing the Moment in the Niger Delta, International Crisis Group, April 30, 3009, accessed May 13, Voice of America, Nigeria's Niger Delta Kidnappings Total Nearly 130 Since 2008, 18 Center for Foreign Journalists, Attacks on the Press 2007: Nigeria, 11

18 Media Landscape Though Nigeria has one of the longest histories of free press in Africa, media struggle with major demographic, political, and financial challenges. Nigeria s media has thrived since the inception of democratic rule in Today, Nigeria has a vast network of state-run and private media outlets at the federal, regional, and local levels. Nigeria has more than 100 newspapers and publications. Each of Nigeria s 36 states runs its own radio station, and most operate television stations. There is greater state-ownership and regulation of broadcast media than print. Private broadcasters need state licenses to operate. There are roughly 17 private radio stations in Nigeria. Although there are many more private newspapers than government-owned ones, there is still some degree of self-censorship at these papers. In addition, many Nigerians we spoke with said that publications are often used for the political or financial advancement of the owner, which influences reporting. Newspapers are very regionalized. The top paper in Lagos is not widely read in the north of the country, and vice versa. Content Analysis The quality of reporting in Nigeria on government activities and the oil sector is poor. Investigative reporting on these topics was described to our researchers as inadequate, and often non-existent. The main causes are lack of education and a lack of financial independence, both of which lead to dependence on government and oil companies. Media coverage of business and the oil industry is not adequately keeping public informed, nor is it playing a watchdog role. The media tend to report more on market opportunities and on stories which paint the government and oil industry in a positive light, rather than following the money and tracking down corruption. Journalists report on the existence of government budgets, but do not monitor them or their implementation. Often, stories on development are actually covering fictional acts by the government or the oil industry. Journalists are bussed around to non-existent project sites and paid to write false development stories. Omoyele Sowore calls this a huge problem in Nigeria. Reportage of the oil sector in particular is generally predictable and pedestrian. Given oil s critical importance to the Nigerian economy, coverage of the industry in general, and particularly of the major multi-nationals involved in extraction, is lacking. The media s coverage of the extractive sector generally lacks depth. Investigative stories are a rarity. Oil-related stories tend to fall into four categories. 1) Public Relations, or PR, stories, in which the oil companies sponsored some initiative (or otherwise acted altruistically) and received positive coverage; 2) Conferences, speeches, official events, and agreements, where some official activity or statement from an oil company or its representative is duly reported; 12

19 3) Crises or disruptions, where some aspect of the oil industry is disrupted (by spills, saboteurs, thieves, or unions) and/or oil company workers are kidnapped; and 4) Numbers stories, which recount fluctuations in the price of oil, changes in a company s production output, or investment figures. The PR stories often read as oil company press releases or something concocted by the company s public relations firm. Nearly half of a sample of 39 stories from November 18, 2008 to December 12, 2008 that mentioned at least one oil company in the body of the text were PR stories. These stories include Vanguard articles about a Shell sponsored soccer tournament ( NNPC/Shell Cup Returns to Lagos With Better Prize Money 19 ), a Chevron funded anti-malaria campaign ( Nigeria: NNPC/Chevron Flag Off Roll Back Malaria Programme 20 ), and a Shell funded microfinance program ( Nigeria: Shell Gives N102 Million Micro Credit Loan to 2,013 Beneficiaries 21 ). While these stories highlight what are probably genuinely positive impacts of the oil companies on Nigeria, they also serve to shape public opinion. The sheer number of such articles, relative to the rest of the articles written about the industry, reveals a press that is more comfortable providing positive coverage of the oil industry than criticizing it, much less playing a role of civil society intermediary or honest broker. The relationship between the press and oil companies is sometimes mutually reinforcing. An article from This Day on December 12 ( Nigeria: This Day Awards More Nominees Emerge 22 ) revealed an awards contest created by the newspaper to honor remarkable performance of companies and chief executives in the private sector. Nominated in the Oil & Gas Company of the Year category are Mobil and a Chevron distribution subsidiary. Interestingly, just three days earlier, a Vanguard article ( Nigeria: Chevron Endows NMMA Prize for Oil and Gas Reporting 23 ) reported the creation of a Chevron-endowed award for the best journalist in oil and gas reporting. The article quotes Chevron s Lagos-branch Public Affairs manager stating, the role of the media is especially important to the oil and gas sector, an industry that is so vital to Nigeria's interest. Despite its oft-generous depiction of the oil companies, the Nigerian press s coverage of the oil industries is by no means wholly positive. Nigeria s oil industry is, of course, a turbulent one, particularly in recent years when sabotage and theft have seriously undermined Nigeria s oil production capacity and output. Stories of disruption and sabotage were reported regularly in the sample. Examples include articles about Chevron security guards attacking protesting union employees ( Nigeria: Chevron Vs Workers - Security Men Manhandle Nupeng Chief, Workers 24 ), Shell s shutting down of a gas plant after it was disrupted by theft ( Nigeria: Shell Shuts Gas Plant Over Vandalism 25 ), and a story about a group of protesting youths who succeed in shutting down a Shell office ( Nigeria: Youths Invade Shell Office 26 ). It should be noted that, in these stories, the oil 19 NNPC/Shell Cup Returns to Lagos With Better Prize Money, Vanguard, 12 December Emma Arubi, Nigeria: NNPC/Chevron Flag Off Roll Back Malaria Programme, 3 December Festus Ahon, Nigeria: Shell Gives N102 Million Micro Credit Loan to 2,013 Beneficiaries, Vanguard, 19 November Tokunbo Adedoja, Nigeria: Thisday Awards More Nominees Emerge, This Day, 12 December Yemie Adeoye, Nigeria: Chevron Endows NMMA Prize for Oil and Gas Reporting, Vanguard, 9 December Emma Amaize, Nigeria: Chevron Vs Workers - Security Men Manhandle Nupeng Chief, Workers, Vanguard, 4 December Bassey Udo, Adeola Yusuf and Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Nigeria: Shell Shuts Gas Plant Over Vandalism, Daily Independent, 27 November Segun James, Nigeria: Youths Invade Shell Office, This Day, 26 November

20 companies are usually portrayed as victims and their protectors, the Nigerian army or security forces, as saviors. The criminals are depicted as faceless hoodlums or militants. There is some negative press of the extractive industry. One such story recounts a community s frustration over Shell s failure to uphold an agreement to improve facilities and opportunities in the community, ( Nigeria: Community Berates Shell Over Failure to Implement Agreement 27 ), while another reports on another community s criticism of Mobil for poisoning local marine life off the Atlantic coast ( Communities Accuse Mobil of Poisoning Marine Products 28 ). Of the 39 consecutive stories collected in December and November, eight articles either concerned disruptions or featured an overtly negative impact of the oil companies. These stories reveal that Nigeria s newspapers are not simply lapdogs of the industry, and are capable of criticism of the extractive companies. However, while these stories are critical of the oil companies, they are still surface deep, and rarely investigate the root causes of some of these disputes or criticisms. And, as in almost all the coverage of the extractives, sourcing is minimal (invariably a spokesperson of the oil company in question), and facts and accusations are rarely checked or affirmed by third parties. To be fair, covering the oil industry s crises is apparently dangerous work according to the media advocate organization Committee to Protect Journalists, which has documented instances of abuse, murder, and harassment of journalists by both the government and the criminal forces engaged in sabotage or theft. 29 Challenges to Journalism in Nigeria Cross-cutting challenges Chart 1: Nigerian journalists found poor pay and freedom of information to be the biggest obstacles to their work, followed by a lack of adequate knowledge and skills. 27 Anayo Okoli, Nigeria: Community Berates Shell Over Failure to Implement Agreement, Vanguard, 1 December Communities Accuse Mobil of Poisoning Marine Products, The Daily Independent, 24 November Center to Protect Journalists, Nigeria. 14

21 Low pay and low regard One of the most fundamental challenges to better journalism in Nigeria is that many people, including journalists themselves, do not consider journalism a real career. Journalists often see their trade as a stepping-stone in their careers. This reality underscores the need for training, since most journalists are poorly prepared for the job. 30 Some become journalists to gain exposure with by-lines in hopes of landing a better job. 31 A founder of a business paper in Lagos said that if journalism were a respected career in Nigeria, journalists would not leave the field. 32 Tied to the low regard for journalism is journalists low pay. Many journalists we spoke to said that journalists are paid very little, and irregularly in some cases they are not paid for months. 33 A former journalist who now works as a media consultant said his old paper paid reporters $100 a month (12,000 Naira). According to one former journalist, the mentality among business owners is that they pay journalists by simply providing them a platform through which they can express themselves. 34 The low pay means that many journalists feel compelled to take bribes from sources. 35 Multiple interviewees said that paying off journalists is the norm. Kirk Robertson Leigh, a freelance journalist formerly with Nigeria s Business Day, said public relations firms seek out journalists to cover their clients events. At events, companies hand out envelopes with bribe money to promote positive coverage. Leigh calls this brown envelope syndrome or gbalamu. He also said that companies actively seek out journalists to whom they can pay bribes. Companies have tried to pay Leigh write a positive analysis on their prospects, which he refused to do, especially after the company refused to release historical information to him. Low pay affects the quality of staff that newspapers can attract. Since newspapers are unable to pay their reporters well, many media houses recruit polytechnic graduates instead of university graduates, who demand higher salaries. This negatively affects the quality of the journalism that emerges from these media outlets. Instruction is generally better at universities. Although polytechnic schools offer communications curricula like universities, the degree requirements for polytechnic professors are lower than university professor requirements. 36 However, while nearly every journalist we met with cited the profession s low pay as a key challenge, some noted that salaries are increasing. According to a radio journalist, this is due to the increased competition in Nigeria s broadcast journalism following a surge in new stations entering the market. New stations bought out journalists from older stations, which inflated salaries across the board. He said his radio station recently lost four journalists to new radio stations. New stations want experienced journalists because it is profitable, he said they are trusted by the public and have extensive networks Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 31 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 32 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 33 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January 34 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 35 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 36 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January 37 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 15

22 Limited resources Apart from their personal remuneration, Nigerian journalists face a variety of technical obstacles to their work, including a general lack of non-monetary resources. Joke Kujenya, a business reporter at The Nation, said that the biggest challenge she faces is the challenge of infrastructure. Nigerian journalists lack the proper tools to do the job, she said. She said that newspapers do not provide adequate computers and other technology, and most journalists salaries are too low to buy these tools for themselves. Even at some of Nigeria s top newspapers there are not enough computers in a newsroom for everyone to have access at the same time. 38 Kujenya cited the newly established Next newspaper, founded by Pulitzer Prize winner Dele Olojede, as one exception. Olojede came with all the tools to start up Next, Kujenya said. Most newsrooms, however, lack essential resources for reporting. Personal laptops are rare. Kujenya said that her co-workers were extremely excited when she showed them a digital recorder that she bought in the U.S. It shouldn t be a big deal, she said. Slow Internet access is another major problem journalists identified. All newsrooms are linked to the Internet, but the bandwidth is low. Our researches heard of many instances where slow Internet was a serious burden on reporters. During the U.S. presidential election, for example, Jahman Anikulapo, the Sunday editor of The Guardian, a major paper, said he was unable to get online to download speech transcripts and other information. (Anikulapo said that his paper just switched to a new Internet provider, which might lead to an improvement.) Slow Internet access also makes it difficult to cover crises that demand reactive coverage. Slow Internet makes research and fact-checking arduous, which leads to increased dependence on uncorroborated information that sources single-handedly provide. In these cases, one television journalist said she simply has to trust that the source s information is accurate. It is common for journalists to draw information from other media stories, as well. 39 The limitations of the Internet go beyond low bandwidth. Many journalists lack adequate training for the Internet and new media. One professor said that university programs rarely teach new media at most, schools offer one or two classes. He is just now introducing these tools into his curriculum. Though he said that new journalism schools are more progressive, when he proposed offering a new media course at his university, faculty did not understand new media s relevance to journalism. Even among his students, he said, there is resistance to the Internet. As an antidote, the professor requires that his students have addresses and do research online. 40 One editor-in-chief of a business newspaper was thrilled to show us an exciting program he learned about at a recent journalism training. Our researchers were a bit surprised to learn that this program was Microsoft Excel, which we had mistakenly thought was almost as well known as Microsoft Word. 38 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January 39 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 40 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 16

23 Even in cases where working journalists are able to attend new media training sessions, they sometimes cannot use newly acquired skills because their newsroom s equipment is not up to date. 41 Insufficient salaries and resources are partially due to media companies low revenues. A media consultant said that twenty years ago newspaper circulation was ten times what it is today. (Publications we asked were not forthcoming with their circulation figures, however.) The Sunday Times printed more than 450,000 copies in 1974, the consultant said. Despite Nigeria s population growth over the past two decades, he doubts newspapers today print as many as 100,000 copies. He estimated that The Guardian, one of Nigeria s most respected papers, sells 20,000 copies a day. Part of the reason for the decrease in newspaper consumption is that Nigerians have gotten poorer despite the country s increased revenues. The 1980s economic crisis caused a middle-class collapse, leading to high income-inequality 42. The low readership can put pressure on newspapers to be more sensationalistic. Nigerian tabloids have the highest circulation, one journalist said. A business reporter at a well-respected paper said that most papers in Nigeria think they can only sell issues with screaming headlines. Journalists need to be trained to be truthful and not exaggerate information, he said 43. The global economic downturn has also affected Nigerian advertising revenues. Anikulapo of The Guardian said that his paper s Tuesday issue is its most popular edition, because it features job ads. In the past, the issue has run at about 120 pages because of heavy advertising. But on the Tuesday of our interview, the paper had just 96 pages because of a major contraction in advertising, which Anikulapo attributed to the bad business environment. Limited financial resources mean that newspapers cannot fund investigative stories. Pointing to an award-winning investigative CNN Africa report on the diamond trade, one business journalist said that a local reporter would never have the financial capacity to do such a story. 44 Advertising Influence The financial obstacles to Nigerian media make them particularly susceptible to pressures from advertisers. Businesses frequently use their leverage as advertisers in newspapers to promote positive coverage. Willingness to manipulate the media is not business s only reason for this Nigeria s judicial system is cumbersome, and it is too time-consuming and costly for companies to challenge false reports in the courts, so they try to head off damaging information at the source. (Not all interviewees would say that their publications bow to advertising pressure, but the perception that such pressure exists is widespread.) Some journalists said that editors censored articles that could threaten their advertising revenue. 45 One journalist said she could not publish a story related to a plane accident that killed hundreds of people because the airline company contributed to her television station s ad revenue. The censored story was about an activist who was murdered while investigating the story under circumstances that the journalist thought were related to the investigation. The journalist said that her station did not allow her to report a follow-up story Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 42 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 43 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 44 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 45 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January 46 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January 17

24 Since most advertisements go to top Nigerian papers, Nigeria s numerous lower-tier papers are able to print articles critical of business without risking loving advertising. The articles attract readers, but are sometimes slanderous and inaccurate. Paradoxically, the negative reporting can also attract advertisements from companies trying to protect themselves from negative coverage. 47 In any case, the relationship between newspapers editorial and advertising departments is often an unhealthy one. The wall between advertising and editorial departments, an ideal in American journalism traditions, is often not honored in Nigeria. In some newsrooms journalists are encouraged to sell ad space. Some journalists see no problem with this a few told us they hoped future training programs would focus on marketing and entrepreneurship. 48 Ownership Influence Most Nigerian papers are owned by a single person with a political or profit-driven agenda, a journalist-turned-media consult told us. As in other countries including the United States many media owners are in the business for the power it gives them, not because of any special affinity for journalism 49. Sometimes, publishers even manipulate stories in favor of their business interests. Since individual owners hold all of the power, they are rarely challenged 50. Journalists sometimes feel at odds with their media owners. We are despised by the political class even by those who own the papers, Jahman Anikulapo said. Since 1999, seven politicians have become owners of newspapers, many of which are fronts for political schemes, he said. The owner of the Daily Independent, for example, is a politician with the People s Democratic Party, Nigeria s strongest, and a former governor who is currently being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission 51. Access to Information Access to information is one of the most pervasive problems for Nigerian journalists. Government is not required, inclined or, in some cases, able to share information at least in a timely manner. Likewise, businesses do not make an effort to share meaningful information with journalists, and generally feel no pressure to do so. Even when it would be relatively easy to get information, journalists may not know the best way to go about requesting it or have the training to distinguish useful information. Many journalists cite a poor legal framework in Nigeria as a major impediment to reporting. The laws affecting media in Nigeria have not been changed since the country returned to democratic rule in Notoriously, that has meant that Nigeria does not have a freedom of information law, even though a Freedom of Information Bill (FOIB) has made it almost all the way through a torturous legislative journey through Nigeria s unpredictable political turf Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 48 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 49 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 50 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 51 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 52 Media Alert West Africa : Annual State of the Media Report, Media Foundation for West Africa, 2008, p

25 But while some reporters think FOIB is the missing link preventing them from doing their jobs, others argue that complaints about FOIB are something of a crutch. Dele Olojede, the founder of Next, published a column in Stop Press, a newsletter for journalists, chastising them for using the lack of FOIB as an excuse for not doing their job better. I am a very strong and passionate supporter of the Freedom of Information Bill not because it empowers the media, but because it empowers the citizens so that if you live in Modakeke, you should have a right to demand from your local government the copy of their financial plan, he wrote. But, he continued, [Journalists have] changed the argument about Freedom of Information Act to an argument about Press Freedom. That s complete nonsense and crap and very selfish and narrow-minded on the part of the press. According to Musa Odoshimokhe of The Nation, if a journalist does proper background research he or she will be able to extract enough information from interviews. It is incumbent on the journalist to get the information he needs, he said. When [a source] is telling you lies, you will know, he said. Another reporter at a news wire shared these views. If passed, he said, the process [of requesting information] will take months to go through, but journalists need information more quickly than that. According to Goddy Ikeh, the Business Editor at the state-funded but independent News Agency of Nigeria, The bill is not really a problem. We have enough laws in the country people will latch onto [the bill] as an excuse for not doing good reporting, he said. Ikeh went so far as to say that the law would make it more difficult for reporters to get information because it would make the process of getting information take more time. Once you start formalizing something it becomes a problem. Lekan Otufodunrin, the editor of The Nation and a noted advocate for the profession of journalism, said that a Freedom of Information bill could help, but it s not the main thing. What people need is a development of their skills, he said, particularly when it comes to reading charts and asking the right questions. The Freedom of Information Bill might be there but you still don t know what questions to ask. Kirk Robertson Leigh, the freelance business journalist, said that a freedom of information law would be of limited utility to business journalists. Good journalists already know tricks to get businesses to share information them. Business journalists have a way of speculating, so it s in [companies ] best interest to be up-front, he said. On a personal note, I ve not had a problem. In business journalism you rely on companies talking, not really government. So I think that bill is really to make government open up, especially in the area of the extractive industries. Leigh does, however, believe that FOIB is imperative for reporters covering politics. To be sure, journalists did describe instances when a freedom of information law would have been directly helpful in reporting a story. For example, when researching a bribery case currently in trial, Anikulapo of The Guardian received an important document from the court. He expected the document to name the government officials involved and said it would be a big scoop for his paper. But the document had all of the names removed. Because of the lack of a freedom of information law, Anikulapo said he was unable to pursue the issue further. [Journalists] still operate in a very dangerous political environment, he said. 19

26 A public radio reporter also noted limited access to government information. I think they don t want to say something that will implicate them. Still, as a journalist you have to have a way to get to the root of the matter even if they won t tell you on record. Even apart from FOIB, many journalists said it was difficult to get information from companies for reasons that would not likely have a legal remedy. One business paper publisher said journalists had little access to decision-makers at private companies. As an example, he said that even if a journalist was able to get an interview with Shell officials by contacting them, the company might cancel because of security clearance issues. 53 Without direct access to officials, many journalists rely on company websites, but often find scarce information. 54 Intimidation Most interviewees told us that, in Lagos, outright intimidation of journalists is a thing of the past. Some told us harrowing stories of brushes with the police during military rule, but it was repeatedly emphasized that the situation has been much different under democratic rule. However, the physical security of journalists may be much stronger in Lagos than it is in other regions of Nigeria. For example, intimidation by police and by other groups is still a major concern in the oil-producing Niger Delta, which is of course an area of vital interest in the promotion of good journalism on the extractives. Ibanga Isine, the bureau chief for Punch Newspaper in Port Harcourt, told us in a phone interview that, recently, police had jailed and flogged him for his journalistic activities. The relative impunity of the police, especially in certain regions and in certain activities, continues to be a problem in Nigeria, which can have a spillover effect for journalists. Joe Agbro, a reporter for The Nation, told us of a story he is covering about a man who was abducted and tortured by a police officer for making an impolite remark in traffic. Agbro said he sometimes felt that he was investigating dangerous territory when reporting the story, but that he felt compelled to follow it. Some journalists say coverage of private companies is censored by their media organizations for reasons that bordered on intimidation. One journalist wrote an investigative report in the Niger Delta that revealed the name of the head of a clan who was taking money from oil companies. His editor did not want to publish the story. The journalist published it himself in another media outlet. 55 Still, most journalists told us that Nigeria has come a long way from the 1990s, when many people would assume that their conversations were monitored and would censor themselves for fear of government reprisal. Institutional Norms One business reporter told us that many reporters are wary of offending or bringing people down. As a result, some hesitate from exposing malfeasance. Investigative journalism is not well developed here, he said, adding that such cultural factors were a bigger obstacle to journalism than a poor legal framework. 56 (However, it should be noted that our researchers saw several examples of articles that attacked public figures quite aggressively.) 53 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 54 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 55 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Emily Gann and Eamon Kircher-Allen. Lagos, Nigeria, March 56 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Emily Gann and Eamon Kircher-Allen. Lagos, Nigeria, March 20

27 When asked how much the media could criticize the government, one radio journalist said, the people themselves, they don t want to indict the government 57. There is evidence that such feelings may be institutionalized. Anther editor told us he received complaints from the government for writing stories considered unpatriotic and disrespectful. 58 Transportation It is hard to overstate the burden of traffic on daily life in Lagos, where most major papers are based. Chronic traffic delays make it difficult for Lagos-based Nigerian journalists to meet with sources or cover stories. 59 Getting to the scene of a news event, one radio journalist told us, can be virtually impossible in midday traffic. Journalists often arrive late to assignments, which leads to shallow reporting and increased reliance on residual knowledge and Internet research. Movement to the Business Sector Many journalists who leave the profession do so to work in corporate communications for banks and other private companies. Of the journalists our researchers spoke with, many suggested that the 2004 bank consolidation, which was implemented by the central bank, drove the need for private sector corporate communications and public relations. The transformation of Nigeria s banking industry created new banking competition and a greater need to focus on communications as new or newly merged banks had to re-invent their branding. This is because after a series of hostile takeovers, mergers and acquisitions, the sector went from 90 banks to roughly 25 in a very short period of time. Business journalists prove to be a natural fit for banks, and banks actively recruit the best business journalists because of their business knowledge, because readers trust them, and because other journalists respect them. One journalist said banks take advantage of this trust to manipulate the media. Training is not a useful way to curtail the flight of business journalists to banking, interviewees said. (The effect, one journalist told us, is like wanting to make your daughter more beautiful in a way that no man will admire her. ) Interviewees agreed that the only way to staunch the bleeding to the private sector is better pay and benefits such as healthcare, cell phone allowances, transportation allowances, pensions, and holiday bonuses. 60 Interviewees told us that the vast majority of journalists who receive business training end up working for the private sector. A radio news editor said that the movement of business journalists to corporate affairs is almost always economically motivated. He said business journalists can make $800 (60,000 Naira) per month (one of the highest estimates we heard for journalist pay) compared to $3,000 to $4,000 (250,000 to 300,000 Naira) per month as a corporate affairs officer. 61 Corporate jobs sometimes also offer allowances for food, clothing, and transportation. One former business journalist who currently works in corporate affairs for a bank said that he ended his five-year career as a journalist largely because of the higher pay the bank offered. According to him, journalists salaries are one-third to one-fifth of corporate relations sector salaries. The former journalist said that the average pay at his old paper, Business Day, was $300 per month 57 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Emily Gann and Eamon Kircher-Allen. Lagos, Nigeria, March 58 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Emily Gann and Eamon Kircher-Allen. Lagos, Nigeria, March 59 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 60 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 61 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 21

28 higher than the $150 per month at most papers. If the journalist s old paper paid well, he said journalists would not be inclined to leave 62. The former business journalist said he did not actively seek private sector employment but was instead heavily recruited by banks. He decided to leave journalism partly because the financial obligations of adult life meant that he had to choose between sacrificing his ethics and accepting pay from sources or poverty. Instead of compromising his journalistic integrity, he decided to leave the profession. This former reporter had attended many local and international trainings in business journalism. He said his business training made him an attractive candidate for banks. The business sector s pull means that the benefit of business journalism training is not long-lasting at newspapers most trained journalists are recruited to work in corporate affairs. 63 Another reason journalists leave the profession is because they become frustrated with journalism. They feel they are not making a difference and choose to leave. 64 Still, interviewees said that journalists do not necessarily attend trainings with the idea of leaving the profession. This is simply the outcome. This trend even affects the academic world. A professor we spoke with said the good journalism professors also leave to work in business. In desperate need of PhD professors to fill vacancies, many universities pull some former professors out of retirement to teach journalism. Although older professors are cheaper, some interviewees said that they are not knowledgeable about current media trends or new media. 65 Even as the lure of higher pay draws the majority of trained journalists to corporate jobs, a passion for the pen does bring some back to media. The founder of a business paper we interviewed left journalism to work in corporate affairs before coming back. One former business journalist who now works at a bank continues to write under a pen name and hope to one day start his own paper. 66 A former reporter for a major newspaper who is now working in media affairs for a bank said he made the move to gain corporate experience. He said he is certain that he will return to journalism in six months or a year. Journalism is a profession that gives you power, he said. Without journalism, he would lose a piece of himself. 67 Kirk Robertson Leigh, the freelance business journalist, expressed a similar sentiment. After a six-month hiatus from journalism working in corporate relations for a bank, Leigh returned to reporting, largely out of love for the work, despite the fact that it does not pay as well. Challenges to reporting on the extractive industries In general, journalism on the extractive industries suffers from all the same challenges as journalism in other sectors. The oil industry is so intertwined with other sectors in Nigeria that it is difficult to identify business and economic journalism that is not in some way related to the extractives. But the importance of oil to Nigeria s economy, and the opacity of oil ventures in general, tend to amplify 62 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 63 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 64 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 65 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January 66 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 67 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Eamon Kircher-Allen. Lagos, Nigeria, March 22

29 the effects of these challenges for journalists directly writing about the sector. This is especially true for journalists reporting from the Niger Delta, which, although we did not personally visit it, we understand to present a much more difficult environment for media. The lack of resources available to journalists is one example of a challenge that the demands of the extractive industry amplify. Ibanga Isine, the Port Harcourt-based editor of Punch, said that journalists working for Nigerian media outlets cannot hope to offer comprehensive coverage of oil spills because they lack the transportation, security and recording equipment to venture into the swamps. Isine described watching in frustration as CNN and other international media often in Nigeria on a very temporary basis got exclusive coverage of environmental disasters that directly affected local communities. This dynamic, Issine said, also means that international media report on the Nigerian oil industry only as a series of crises. What CNN sees is not what I see, he said. What they see is crisis what they want is crisis. But you can also see the positive things: in spite of the crisis, the oil is still being exported. One begins to wonder whether the media is helping the crisis. A media consultant said that extractive sector reporting focuses too much on the criminal aspect of oil. He said reporting should focus on core and technical challenges, such as the disconnect between the Nigerian oil sector and Nigerian society. Nigeria could go on fire and burn down and the oil industry wouldn t even notice, he said. 68 Journalists reported that access to information is also particularly difficult when covering the oil industry. Oil companies wield an enormous amount of power, and even more than Lagos-based banks and other businesses are under no pressure to respond in a timely manner to information requests. When responding to breaking news, Issine said, oil companies are in no rush to release relevant information. We try all we can to get everyone in government and oil companies to tell you exactly what happened, but it takes about eight hours to get back to you, he said. No matter how good you are, where you are trained, the level of your education when the attitude, culture and infrastructure on the ground are not there, you can t be there. On the other hand, even when journalists can get information from oil companies, they may not have the expertise to contextualize it in their reporting. There is a minimum of extractive industry specialization offered in mass communications programs, and even in the most comprehensive journalism training programs we canvassed, extractives training was at most a small section of the curriculum. In fact, oil companies are often the only entities offering training to journalists covering the oil industry. This, of course, means that even when oil companies are genuinely invested in training, the line between training and propaganda can become blurry. Interviewees said that journalists covering extractive industries need to have a better understanding of petroleum pricing and oil industry accounting standards, which are not standardized. 68 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 69 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 70 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 23

30 Chart 1: Among journalists who cover the extractive industries in Nigeria, freedom of information, the threat of violence and inadequate Internet access are the most important challenges. As noted earlier in this report, physical security remains much more of a concern in the oilproducing Delta than in other parts of Nigeria. The relationship between armed groups, oil companies and the government is often sordid, according to Isine. Once, I tried to get a photo of a major oil spill and fire, and I was almost kidnapped by local youths who were being paid by Shell, Isine told us. They destroyed the camera. They were with Shell officials that s how I know they were being paid by Shell. The Shell police handed us over to them. Nigerian broadcast media organizations do not have energy specialists like print news organizations. This is part of the reason why print journalists can do more in-depth reporting, one television business journalist told us 71. The Impact of Training Programs Training programs available to business and economic journalists in Nigeria While there is significant need for more journalism training in Nigeria, some journalism education opportunities already exist. However, these trainings tend to be sporadic and inadequate, tailored more to the interests of those conducting the training than the needs of the journalists. They also tend to be short-term, often lasting just a few days, and without any follow up. Moreover, trainings on covering extractive industries are sparse to nonexistent. The following section will examine trainings that journalists in our sample have had, as well as other opportunities for training in Nigeria. We found that there are very limited opportunities for Nigerians to study business and economic reporting in the course of their university studies. Please refer to Appendix A for a more 71 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January 24

31 detailed analysis of the opportunities and challenges for journalism education within Nigeria s university system. Trainings by Media Houses As media have come to recognize the need to have properly trained journalists on the business beat, there has been a growing trend for them to organize their own trainings. In our research, we found that Business Day, The Punch and The Guardian are all starting trainings. However, there is the possibility, particularly given the financial crisis and the likelihood of economic downturn in media revenues, that these kinds of trainings will not be sustainable. As noted by a business journalist with The Guardian, trainings are often the first things to be cut when media outlets are forced to reduce spending. 72 Trainings by Universities While business and economic journalism has not been adequately incorporated into university curricula in Nigeria, there have been some opportunities for professional trainings at universities. The newly founded School of Media and Communications in Lagos, in particular, has been offering six different certificate training programs since July Emevmo Biakolo, the dean of the school, said these were started to address what he saw as a real lack of education and low quality reporting among working business journalists. A typical seminar is 15 to 20 participants in size. In all, they held eight programs in 2008, and hope to hold another 10 to 12 in Their trainings are being taken advantage of by the top newspapers in Nigeria, including The Guardian, Business Day, Punch, Financial Standard, Vanguard, Tribune, Champion, Silverbird, Daar Communications, NTA and Cool FM, and are helping to fill a gap in a style of training that has long been missing. Their Business and Economic Reporting course, which has proven popular among media houses in Nigeria, is a ten-day course spread out over two months, meeting one to two days per week. This course, mixing in both classroom lessons and field reporting, covers topics such as: Business News and Features Business and Professional Ethics Business Indicators and Their Methods of Analysis Financial Analysis; Analysis of Budget Investment Nigeria and the Global Business Environment Practicum (for print, radio and TV) Group Project (off-site); Self-Management for the Business Reporter The primary objectives of the course are to optimize the ability of journalists to understand and analyze business, communicate about business in a clear and engaging way, and improve their knowledge of the business environment in Nigeria, Africa and the world. They train on ethics, as well, dealing with issues such as censorship and pressures on what they publish. Biakolo said what makes this difficult to teach is that every situation is unique, so they focus more on how to be innovative and entrepreneurial in dealing with barriers, such as finding new markets and increasing 72 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January Emevmo Biakolo Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January

32 sales elsewhere. The cost of this course is N180,000 ($1385), which includes all course materials, tea and lunch and is most often funded by media outlets, given that this price is prohibitive for average journalist wages. It is important to note that there are no specific sessions dedicated to extractive industries, nor do they offer New Media. Professor Patrick Utomi, one of the Lagos Business School s founding members, also conducts trainings. He said he has typically offered two types of journalism trainings, one for journalists in the field and another for business editors and other gatekeepers. 74 The purpose of this gatekeeper training is to help editors learn what to ask for and how to identify poor business reporting. He has also organized quarterly media seminars on economic and business reporting. Each seminar focuses on a single theme, such as corporate finance. Trainings by Local Organizations and Nonprofits The International Press Centre (IPC), a Nigerian-run organization, conducts regular trainings on budget monitoring and corruption. These tend to be two to three day workshops of approximately 25 people. According to Lanre Arogundade of IPC, Over time, from our own observations and studies we tend to think that budget and corruption reporting is a bit devoid of what we call the social element, we don t get the social context for these issues. You read newspapers and discover it is more about the figures. The whole idea is to sensitize the public, to let the public know how much has been stolen from the public sphere. The average reader begins to think these looters in government are engaged in a game of numbers. We begin to think that budget and corruption reporting is not directly related to development. For corruption, we have to go beyond these figures to analyze how they actually affect people. 75 Development Communications Network (Devcoms), a Nigerian-run organization directed by a former reporter for The Guardian, conducts three to five day trainings for journalists on development issues. Most of their trainings focus on health and science reporting, though some aspects of their health reporting, such as poverty-related health risk, have economic elements. Devcoms also organizes a monthly media forum where they invite a representative from an organization to cover a specific issue. Devcoms is currently in the preliminary steps in organizing a financial reporting training in conjunction with First City Management Bank. Following the training, First City will give journalists grants to do investigative reports. They are also creating a budget monitoring training. Trainings by Nigerian Financial Institutions and Companies Most of the journalists in our sample had received training from Nigerian financial institutions and companies. The trainings in Nigeria, usually held annually, are primarily held by the stock exchange, the local Securities and Exchange Commission, the Central Bank and the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation. They tend to focus more on content rather than skills. SEC trainings, for example, cover regulatory and supervisory issues in the capital market environment. According to a long-time broadcast business journalist, these particular trainings have helped him to understand the issues involved in an emerging market economy and how regulators handle the issues. However, he said that these trainings are based on what the institutions wish the financial media to know about their operations, a fact that can compromise the reporting of journalists. This 74 Patrick Utomi Interview by Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January Lanre Arogundade Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January

33 journalist said he has, however, managed to keep my professionalism intact, allowing very little impact of sponsorships on my reporting and analysis. Private companies also occasionally provide trainings for business journalists in Nigeria. A journalist at The Guardian said he had attended a training in 2005 organized by private companies, Soul Comm and TransCorp of Nigeria, that focused on stock market reporting. Professor Nwuneli said he s also seen oil companies set up training organizations in Nigeria, which they use to influence journalists. 76 The Impact of Trainings Training is important to creating systematic improvement in business and economic journalism in Nigeria, and interviewees consistently reported that it will necessarily change the situation for the better. According to a journalist with The Punch, Training can never leave you at the same point as where you started from. It takes you to a new level. It makes you feel that you are also somebody within society. There is something you know that the next person may not, or something you know that the next person knows. And if the two of you know the same thing, it makes you feel like you are on the same page, and nobody feels inferior. 77 As would be expected, there were ways in which journalists experienced some differences in the ways their careers were impacted. However, they all reported benefiting from the trainings in a number of consistent ways. Impact on Reporting Training has had a significant impact on the reporting of economic and business journalists in Nigeria. For some, it has been an opportunity to advance their skills and become prominent reporters in their industry. For others, it was their first exposure to training in reporting and writing skills. A journalist with The Guardian said she came into the job without any training on how to be a journalist, having gone to university instead to study English literature. 78 This was her first opportunity to learn this material first hand. A journalist with Business Day said trainings have been useful particularly in understanding the basic 101 of business reporting, reporting the economy, capital markets, foreign exchange and the financial system. 79 Training has played an important role in helping journalists understand the businesses behind business reporting, which is something they generally don t receive from their university education. Very little is known about the conduct and nature of businesses, because they are shrouded in secrecy, said a former journalist from This Day. 80 Now what these trainings help to do is to equip the journalists on how to find out about the operations of these businesses in different countries, like oil prospecting companies in Nigeria. These trainings help to track revenues, to track taxes, to track evasion. Journalists otherwise would not have known how to go about it without these trainings. Many journalists cited practical reporting and writing skills as key components of their training experience. This is largely because journalism education in Nigerian universities is so heavily theoretical. A former journalist from This Day said that these practical sessions help him actually learn how to report they helped him know what to write, what to ask and what opportunities are 76 Emman Onuora Nwuneli Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January

34 out there for stories. You will write a story when the trainings begin, he said, and one you write after the trainings, and put them side by side, you will see the difference. The difference will be in how the story is presented. You will be saying the same thing, you probably have the same facts, but the way your story is presented, you will give your reader more satisfaction reading that story. 81 One former journalist with Business Day, who majored in finance in university, said that his training with IIJ played an important role in his improvement as a journalist. It made his reporting simpler, more mass communication-oriented and accessible for the average reader, because it focused on reporting these issues and employed very practical trainers who had covered these fields. Their lecturers helped him to connect global issues locally, and to better understand policy issues. This enabled him to go to the World Trade Organization conference in Hong Kong, which he covered for Business Day. Without this training, such an opportunity would have been out of his reach. 82 A current journalist with Business Day also praised the impact his IIJ training had on his reporting. 83 In particular, he found the trainings he had on financial reporting, environmental issues and the IMF and World Bank to be especially beneficial. He published a story on recycling in Germany, which was very well received by Business Day. The trainings helped him to better understand how companies operate and how government policies affect their operations. He also gained a better understanding of the politics underlying the policies of the IMF and World Bank, enabling him to report more effectively on development issues. The training resulted, as well, in a promotion for him. A journalist from The Guardian who had trained at the School of Media and Communications said it helped him better understand statistics and how to use them to reach broad audience. Before his training, he said he never related economic statistics to the lives of average people. After the training, however, he began to think of how his reporting would impact shareholders, potential investors and average Nigerians. The wealth of a journalist should be measured in the lifestyles of the people for whom you are reporting, he said. After his training he read over his articles more thoroughly before submitting them to his editor. He said his reporting also became much more substantive after training, and that he felt more passionate about serving as the voice of the people. 84 There do not appear to be any prior quantitative studies on how trainings have impacted the rate of reporting on business and economic stories in Nigeria. However, one of our interviewees supplied us with figures on the impact of other trainings. Akin Jimoh at Devcoms noted a 15 percent increase in maternal mortality stories among journalists who attended their health reporting training (Nigeria, incidentally, has the 2 nd highest maternal mortality rate in the world according to Jimoh). 85 This positive result suggests that trainings can increase not only the quality but also the quantity of coverage of particular topics. Unfortunately, many journalists we spoke with explained that they were not always able to utilize the skills learned in trainings to their full extent. Some journalists lacked the financial resources to 81 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January Nigerian Akin Jimoh Interview by Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January

35 completely make use of some of the new skills they had learned. Joke Kujenya, a journalist with The Nation, said that she bought a digital recorder in the U.S. during a training trip and was disheartened that her coworkers back at The Nation were so excited by it. She thinks such commonplace journalistic tools shouldn t be a big deal. In other cases, journalists returned to their offices feeling that their editors who had not been on trainings with them did not grasp the full importance of their new approach to reporting. Kirk Robertson Leigh, a freelance journalist, reports that through training he picked up the concept of so what? a very important concept. I remember having an argument with my editor here on how you report. I was becoming an apostle of the so what?, but it s lacking here. You know, when I ask why don t you guys do it this way their reply is, we ve always been doing it this way. There was some sentiment among journalists, however, that this is changing. A former journalist from This Day contended that the market demand for good stories is growing steadily. If journalists are trained better, and they churn out good stories he said, it will be a function of demand and supply. The market demands for these stories. The publishers will be forced to publish these stories. 86 A journalist from Punch backed up this sentiment when he said, Obviously they will publish it, and be ready to see the consequences. I can assure you that if something is good, if it is truthful, Punch will publish it. It is not owned by a politician. If something is truthful and everyone else rejects it, Punch will publish it and damn the consequences. This paper and some others are willing to go to any lengths to publish the truth. There are not many, but they are there. 87 Impact on Pay and Benefits Low remuneration is a major cause of flight from the profession and one reason why journalists often take bribes from their sources. Also, because of their low pay, Most journalists are not able to resist the temptation of bribery or corruption, said a journalist with Punch. If I am earning $1000 here, then I am earning $2000 in America, and others are earning one quarter of that in some of the places here. That is why some journalists are not even ready to listen to something that is upright, they want to survive. But I believe with a good pay and good condition of services, journalists will stand up and fight. There are newspapers here that have not paid their journalists for four months. 88 A stringer for the New York Times said that the average monthly wage for an editor is N200K (~$1300) to N300K (~$2000) a month, which he said is equivalent to entry-level pay for a bank. Sometimes what you have not earned in the last twenty years [as a journalist] you get to earn in just a few months [at a bank]. 89 It is important to evaluate whether or not trainings will increase pay and benefits for journalists in Nigeria. In our survey, we found that 61.5 percent of respondents reported receiving increased pay after training. When asked to explain the connection between training and pay increases, the common response was that trainings themselves didn t automatically result in higher pay, but that as their reporting improved from training, their editors took notice and often their pay level was raised as a result. Some journalists reported that their pay increased relatively soon after their trainings. A journalist with Business Day said he believed his pay increases have been a reward for my work probably, as a result of applying what I learnt in the course of my training to the work. 90 As 86 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January 9. 29

36 training makes journalists more valuable employees, increasing the risk that they will take a job with a competitor, media houses are increasingly forced to offer competitive pay. In fact, one TV journalist we met with was in the process of interviewing with other media outlets for better opportunities, and one newspaper journalist had just accepted a higher position elsewhere. Impact on Career Opportunities Promotion and Opportunities Elsewhere in Journalism The journalists we spoke with reported that trainings have definitely opened doors for promotion within their media houses. In our survey, we found that 31 percent of respondents reported receiving a promotion after training. For example, one journalist became the business desk editor at his newspaper, another was promoted to senior correspondent and a third was put in charge of the Real Estate beat. When asked if journalists go to trainings hoping to be promoted, one journalist at Punch said that the expectation [for promotion from training] is certainly there But it is geared towards equipping you in your industry capability, to be able to do your work effectively. You need to be able to stand out in your field. 91 Journalism trainings also opened doors for journalists in other media houses. Thirty-seven and a half percent of respondents in our survey reported taking a new job in another organization after training. Of that 37.5 percent, 67 percent said they had taken that new job in another media house. Examples of new opportunities included, a promotion to a business editor position, freelance work for major American newspapers like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal and consultancies for television stations. Improved skills from trainings have also led some journalists to receive accolades from outside their workplace. One journalist said, I was at the Daily Independent in 2005 when I won an award on the business and economics category from CNN Africa. After that award, I switched employers, got a raise, got a better package. What brought that award was that I d done a couple of trainings that made me write better. They gave me a better opportunity. 92 Trainings not only exposed journalists to new topics, but also to other journalists as well. Interviewees overwhelmingly mentioned the networking aspect of trainings as one of the most positive outcomes. In some cases, interviewees said that networking was the most valuable aspect of a training. This was true for Moyela Muyiwa, a former journalist in Nigeria who now works for a public relations firm called Quadrant. Muyiwa attended a Thomson Reuters training in South Africa in 2002 at which all the participants were journalists from various parts of Africa. Moyela has kept in touch with many of them, and has since collaborated on stories with journalists from Ghana and South Africa who he met in the training. Journalists Leaving Journalism In Nigeria, journalism has not historically been thought of as a career, but rather as an entry point for other opportunities. A popular path among journalists has been to work as a journalist, and then take a corporate communications job, often at a bank, where journalists can earn exponentially more 91 Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January

37 money. Their knowledge of what media are looking for in terms of content, and their media contacts, make journalists uniquely suited to these communications positions. A major concern about journalism training is whether or not it increases the likelihood for journalists to leave the field altogether to seek other opportunities, threatening to actually lower the overall quality of journalism from brain drain. Professor Utomi estimated that 90 percent of the journalists he has trained have been recruited to work in corporate communications. 93 The knowledge journalists receive in business reporting trainings often supplements education they did not have access to in university, and qualifies them to work in positions outside of journalism that are considerably more lucrative. In fact, many of our sample journalists have fled to other industries, while others are currently working outside of journalism. Dean Emevmo Biakolo of School of Media and Communication admitted that there are many journalists who are leaving the profession, but that this is more a function of low pay than training. 94 In our survey, we found that 77.5 percent of our respondents reported that they remained in journalism after training, which supports this claim. Many journalists we interviewed had left the profession for a time, often seeking better pay, but returned to journalism later. I ve heard stories from some of our colleagues who left to the banks, said a journalist with Punch. But after some time they have not derived the kind of satisfaction they expected, and they are back to the newsroom. Yes, they say, We were being paid more than we were getting from the media. But we don t have the job satisfaction that we used to have. 95 He said he saw this happen with at least two journalists when he was working at the Daily Independent. A former journalist who is now working in corporate communications at PHB Bank wanted to see the other side of his industry, and thought it would be good for him to go into public relations (citing higher pay as the second reason). 96 Despite working a day job in Public Relations, he continues to publish stories in newspapers under a pen name. His hope is to return to journalism in the future in an ownership role. A former senior correspondent with This Day said that he has only left the journalism profession for the time being. I wouldn t say I have left journalism. I know I will return to journalism. I am certain of it. I know that I feel that I would lose a part of myself if I don t practice journalism. Journalism is a profession that people go into because it gives you power. 97 He reported that the opportunity to leave arose because of the trainings he s had, certainly but that he left primarily because he wanted to gain corporate experience. This journalist said he plans to return to journalism in six months or a year. When you practice journalism for a while and leave journalism, he said, and you go work for the government, or the private sector, and other work that aligns with the skills of journalists, you will always want to go back. Journalism is one work that seeps into your system. You cannot sit down and not want to write, or pursue a story. As a journalist or former journalist you see all that is happening around you, and you want to break that story today. When you leave mainstream journalism, you lose the chance to tell stories the way you want them to be told. 93 Patrick Utomi Interview by Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January Emevmo Biakolo Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz. Lagos, Nigeria, January Nigerian Interviewee # Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January

38 Dean Biakolo pointed out that most training is supported and funded by media houses, which in his mind shows a commitment to and investment in their journalists. The prospect of receiving training, he thinks, should provide more incentive for journalists to stay in journalism. Biakolo believes that there will be journalists who leave the profession after training, but that overall, business journalism should improve as a result of training. 98 There is one important caveat about these findings on journalists leaving the profession as a result of training. While training itself did not appear to cause flight from journalism to other professions within our sample, it is possible that our sample is slightly skewed. Our team spoke primarily with journalists who are still in the industry, or who had returned, but with only a few journalists who had left and had not returned. We drew our sample from training lists of organizations that had conducted trainings, and from people who are current journalists. Those training lists almost entirely contained current journalists, and furthermore, current journalists connected us primarily to fellow journalists within their media outlets. People who are no longer journalists during our research were much harder to locate. Therefore, it is certainly possible that a larger sample size of former journalists would produce results suggesting that training could promote brain drain. However, the journalists our researchers spoke with were emphatic that fewer journalists are leaving the industry, and that more are returning, because pay is increasing and people are starting to think of journalism as a career. Moreover, training is having the effect of raising pay in the industry, and increasing the perception of journalism as a career. 98 Emevmo Biakolo Interview by Ben Colmery. Lagos, Nigeria, January

39 Notes on conducting research in Nigeria Four researchers in total traveled to the city-state of Lagos, Nigeria; two in January 2009 (Ben Colmery and Adriana Diaz) for two weeks and two in March 2009 (Emily Gann and Eamon Kircher-Allen), also for two weeks. Researchers were able to conduct a large number of interviews and visited a great many of Nigeria s media houses. In general, researchers felt that they had an extremely good impression of the media environment in Lagos. It should be noted, however, that Nigeria is enormous and incredibly diverse and that, while Lagos is certainly the media capital of the country, there is a great deal to be learned about other regions, as well. As we have noted in this report, media conditions are different in the Niger Delta, an area of special concern for the extractives. But media conditions are undoubtedly different in Nigeria s other metropolises as well even if not many newspapers are based in them from Joss to Kano to Maidugri and beyond. These differences, and other challenges our researchers faced, will likely be relevant for anyone planning training programs in Nigeria, as well. Like every country, Nigeria has unique characteristics that can make fieldwork there challenging. The country s infrastructural, logistical, and financial predicaments are constant hurdles for both foreigners and locals. Nigeria s infrastructure cannot support the population demand, most acutely in terms of electricity, transportation and Internet. The World Bank estimates that fewer than 40 percent of Nigerians have access to electricity. 99 Despite being the world s sixth largest producer of oil, Nigeria s electricity grid can only meet 10 percent of the country s electricity demand. 100 Many Nigerians we spoke to said they receive around four hours of electricity per day. Most businesses and hotels have generators to cover power outages. Brief blackouts occur throughout the day when state-supplied power goes out and generators are booted on. While such blackouts occurred throughout many of our meetings in Nigeria, our interviews continued uninterrupted since blackouts are a regular part of daily life. In addition, generators cost as much as $3,000 per month. Under-developed transportation infrastructure is also a hindrance to doing work in Nigeria. While well-paved roads between cities make for smooth longer-distance travel, poor roads in the city make urban travel (at least in the case of Lagos) a day-long affair. Despite Lagos s booming population growth over the past 30 years, few roads have been added to the city grid. Depending on the time of day and direction of travel it can take up to four hours to get across the city. The inefficiency of travel limited our research to two interviews a day and may be a logistical challenge to holding a training session in the city of Lagos. Many of these infrastructural challenges are characteristics of most developing nations. Less obvious is Nigeria s high cost of living. This was a major challenge to our research. Internet is slow, and while it is available in most hotels and businesses, it is costly. Prices for food, lodging, and Although Nigeria s demand for electricity can reach 30,000 megawatts, its energy grid supplies less than 3000 megawatts: 33

40 transportation were higher than those in New York. Most of the hotels where foreigners stay in Lagos are located on Victoria Island, which is Lagos s business center. These hotels cost at least $200 a night. Meals from restaurants cost an average of $15 to $30 dollars. Transportation is also very costly; each day our researchers spent an average of $60 on taxis for travel to one or two meetings. The helpfulness of Nigerian social networks partially makes up for the limitations of the country s infrastructure. Personal networks in Nigeria are strong and vast. Nearly half of our meetings in Nigeria were the result of a personal connection. 34

41 Ghana 35

42 Background 101 Ghana is widely considered to be a hospitable place for non-profit organizations and development work. With its most recent elections, which were successful, Ghana once again lived up to its reputation of being one of the most stable and democratic countries in all of Africa. Ghana s steady democratic consolidation has not only buoyed its reputation, but has also brought other dividends, including fueling its economic development. Interviewees said on several occasions that regional businesses from across West Africa are starting to relocate their headquarters to Accra because of Ghana s more stable political and economic situation. One journalist called this a dividend of democracy and noted that the influx of regional businesses meant that good Ghanaian economic journalism was now even more important. Another journalist said that even Nigerian banks are beginning to relocate some of their operations to Ghana. Accra is also home to a sprawling new American embassy complex, which serves as the U.S. s regional hub for West Africa (rather than supporting full embassies in countries like Guinea, the U.S. government is basing more staff in Accra). Extractives While agriculture dominates Ghana s economy, extractives are also an important part of its economy. The recent discovery of oil in Ghana is one of the main reasons that it was chosen for study in this report. Because the discovery is recent, proponents of Ghana s steady and sustainable development hope that it may be able to avoid some of the problems that have plagued, for example, Nigeria. One of the problems to avoid and a place where good journalism can be of particular importance is the opacity of the contracts, deals and the industry in general. Ghana s extractive industries sector is currently dominated by the mining of gold, diamond, bauxite, and manganese. According to the EITI s profile of Ghana, gold represented 34 percent of the country s exports (12 percent of GDP) from 2000 to Indeed, until its independence from the British in 1957, Ghana was known as the Gold Coast for its rich gold stores. Ghana is currently the second largest producer of gold after South Africa. Ghana s mining industry is dominated by the multi-national AngloGold Ashanti, the South African mining company Gold Fields Ltd and United States-based Newmont, all of which represent a large percentage of Ghana s foreign direct investment. 103 Major oil deposits off Ghana s Gold Coast were discovered in These deposits have been estimated at between 1 and 3 billion barrels of oil. 104 Ghana is expected to reach an output of 120,000 barrels a day by 2010, and 200,000 barrels a day by 2013, which could make Ghana the seventh largest oil producer in the world. 105 Oxfam America estimates that depending on oil prices and future production levels, Ghana could soon see more than $1 billion added to government 101 Photo on previous page: Seneviratne, Isuru, photographer. Yellow Beast. Photograph From: Flickr: isurusen s photostream, 102 Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative website, Ghana profile: 103 Ghana: Mining Overview, Mbendi Information Services website. Accessed 12 December 2008: 104 Chris Hufstader, The Coming Oil Boom in Ghana, Oxfam America website, 1 October Accessed 11 December 2008: 105 Ghana consults stakeholders on managing oil, Ghana Update, Spring 2008, The Whitaker Group. Accessed 13 December 2008: 36

43 revenues each year, 106 which would far eclipse Ghana s current revenues from mining. The major oil companies involved in the planned extraction of these oil deposits include Irish-based Tullow Oil, British-firm Kosmos, and the American oil company Hess Corporation. Ghana has experienced political stability since 1992, when multi-democracy was re-established following the introduction of a new constitution. This stability has encouraged foreign investment into Ghana. Ghana s GDP per capita in 2005 stood at approximately $2,500, roughly twice the per capita output of the poorest countries in West Africa. 107 Ghana was accepted as an Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) candidate country on 27 September Ghana also maintains its own Ghana EITI 108, to which mining company Newmont is a signatory. 109 Telecommunications Ghana s telecommunications statistics and data reveal a surprising lack of infrastructure given the country s overall development. Approximately 43 percent of Ghana s population has access to electricity, 80 percent of which is consumed in urban areas. 110 Telephone usage is dominated by the cellular sector: 7.6 million Ghanaians had cell phones in 2007 compared to only 376,500 landlines in use. Internet penetration in Ghana is surprisingly low. According to Eric Akumiah, Secretary of the Internet Society, a Ghanaian NGO, the Internet reaches a mere 2.7 percent of Ghana s population as compared to a penetration rate of 5.3 percent for Africa s population as a whole. 111 The biggest factor for Ghana s low Internet usage rates seems to be the high cost of equipment, installation and monthly subscription costs, which for broadband for a household can cost $200 a month, an exorbitant amount in Ghana. Literacy and Education With its large number of primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools, Ghanaians have relatively easy access to education. Government spending on education is also quite strong. Between 1997 and 2007, government spending on education was between 28 percent and 40 percent of the government s annual budget. 112 During this time, primary school enrollment increased considerably, from 57 percent in 1999 to 90 percent in According to UNICEF, total public expenditures on education accounted for 5.4 percent of Ghana s GDP in By 2009, according to USAID, primary school net enrollment and completion rates were expected to reach 73 percent and 75 percent, respectively, while the percentage of primary school children 106 Ibid. 107 Ghana, The World Factbook, Central Intelligence Agency, 4 December Accessed 13 December 2008: 108 See Ghana Energy Foundation website: 111 Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, Ghana s low internet penetration, high cost and national growth, Ghana Business News, 6 December 2008: USAID, President's International Education Initiative Expanded Education for the World's Poorest Children: Ghana Fact Sheet, September 24, 2007: 114 UNICEF, Division of Policy and Practice, Statistics and Monitoring Section, May

44 reading at grade level was predicted to reach 20 percent. Enrollment rates, however, vary across Ghana s different regions. In northern Ghana in 2007, according to USAID, more than 40 percent of girls at the basic level [were] not in school. 115 The literacy rate in Ghana stands at 57.9 percent of the national population. 116 English is Ghana s official language, but ten other major Ghanaian and regional languages are spoken across the country. English is the predominant language of Ghana s print and broadcast media; however, many popular radio stations broadcast in local languages. Civil Society Ghana s stability and democracy-friendly climate has also resulted in many foreign NGOs, church and aid organizations establishing significant presences in the country. Such organizations appear to be able establish themselves without much in the way of bureaucratic hindrances. However, Ghana s indigenous civil society, while vibrant, does not yet seem engrained into Ghanaian society, and political and economic culture. Indeed, foreign organizations seem to have an easier time than local NGOs, particularly if those NGOs are critical of the ruling government, based on our researcher s observations. Media Landscape Ghana s media environment is still developing. Ghana s media, as a whole, is more stable and mature than in many of Ghana s regional neighbors, but it still has a long way to go. Ghana s recent history has not always been kind to media development. After Lt. General Jerry Rawling s ascension to power in 1981, political parties were banned and the media was repressed to some degree. Following the introduction of a new constitution and democratic elections in 1992 (which Rawlings won in 1992 and 1996), Ghana s political and media atmosphere improved significantly. However, a strict libel law continued to dampen Ghana s media until its repeal in 2001, which resulted in an explosion of private media outlets. The initial explosion in media that occurred after the repeal of the libel law seems to have been followed by significant development within the media sector. Most of Ghana s news outlets today are small private outlets that focus on entertainment and political news. Substantial media development work, particularly to strengthen Ghana s business and economic journalism, is much needed. However, a comprehensive shift in the media landscape may be necessary before Ghana s media can be strengthened. The biggest challenge to media development in Ghana may be Ghanaian society s low regard for the media and the services it provides. Simply put, the media won t develop if there is no demand for improvement, nor will journalism attract the talent needed to make the media thrive. The Ghanaian media s business model presents another serious challenge to media development. Many journalists said that many newspapers discourage in-depth, substantive journalism because of the expense and time commitment involved. Editors and journalists alike also complained that too much media coverage is market-driven, meaning that stories get published only when there are media consumers for them. The media-consuming public, they said, is interested primarily in 115 USAID: 116 United Nations Development Program Human Development Report 2007/2008, 38

45 entertainment news, scandals, and political squabbles. Thus, that is what gets produced. Business and economic reportage, in particular, have had a difficult time finding and cultivating a significant audience. It seems that a major shift in media consumption patterns may be necessary for true media development to occur. Ghana consistently receives high ratings from press freedom watchdogs. 117 Ghana s private press and broadcasters function, for the most part, without government interference or harassment. Media criticism of the government is generally tolerated, though not without exception. The 2001 repeal of the libel law resulted in an explosion of media with a plethora of new newspapers and radio stations coming into existence, according to the African Media Development Initiative s 2006 report on Ghana. 118 Ghana s key medium of mass communication is radio, with hundreds of stations filling the dials across the country. The Internet is also making headway into Ghana, though Internet speed remains low and the service is expensive. A recent BBC World Service report on Ghana s media notes that nearly one third of Ghanaians have access to the Internet, and mobile telephones are becoming a significant source of news. 119 Ghana s print media is divided between a handful of state-owned newspapers (which have the highest circulation in the country), and dozens of privately owned publications. Ghana s state media usually profess a strong commitment to national interests and do not explicitly back political parties (though they tend to support the ruling government), while the smaller private papers often back particular political parties, serve a niche market, or act as populist muckrakers. Political anthropologist Jennifer Hasty, author of The Press and Political Culture in Ghana, writes that in positioning themselves against the state media, [Ghanaian] private journalists rely on a global rhetoric of liberal vocation, identifying themselves as watchdogs in the public interest, free from state control and ideological manipulation. 120 While this observation may ring true for some outlets, we discovered that the smaller private papers, while perhaps more feisty, were also more dependent on the market and advertisers than their government-owned counterparts, which are better funded and more financially (and politically) stable, on the whole. The Ghanaian private media s fragile business model means that the global economic downturn is hitting it hard. A recent article published on the blog of the International Institute for Journalism at Inwent (IIJ) noted that Ghana s newspaper industry is being battered by an array of challenging forces ranging from changing trends in advertising, rising costs due to the worldwide financial crisis to a decline in circulation arising from economic constraints facing newspaper readers. 121 In addition, print media is suffering because much of its content is increasingly being re-disseminated by radio, television, and electronic media that consumers do not pay for, which undercuts print 117 Ghana ranks 31 out of 173 (above the US at 37) on the Reporters Without Borders 2008 press freedom index: 118 Dr Samuel Kafewo, Ghana: Research findings and conclusions, The African Media Development Initiative (London: BBC World Service, 2006), p Ghana: Country Profile, BBC News website, 4 December Accessed 13 December 2008: 120 Jennifer Hasty, The Press and Political Culture in Ghana, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005) p Kent Mensah, Financial crisis crumpling Ghana newspapers, The Daily IIJ, March 5th, 2009:

46 sales. (However, some interviewees told us that for smaller papers, this practice is actually a boon to business: radio readings can act like advertisements for publications.) While this trend, coupled with the economic crisis, is bad for Ghana s media in the short-term, in the longer term, these changes may bring about a major consolidation of Ghana s print media. This consolidation could actually strengthen Ghana s print media by channeling resources to fewer outlets and, as a consequence, improving the quality of its print journalism. Circulation figures for Ghanaian newspapers are typically not made public. Several journalists, for example, cited different circulation figures for the same newspaper. According to Dr. Gadkzekpo of the University of Ghana, many of the smaller private newspapers only reach a few thousand daily readers, yet are unwilling to consolidate or merge because of their role as proxies and unofficial mouthpieces for Ghana's political parties. Ghana s most prominent newspapers include: The Daily Graphic, a state-run, well-funded daily with the largest circulation in Ghana. The Graphic family includes several other publications including the Business Graphic, a newly established business weekly. The Ghanaian Times, Ghana s other main state-funded newspaper. The Daily Guide, one of Ghana s largest private dailies, which boasts its own printing press; plans to spin-off a weekly business paper in Public Agenda, Ghana s only public interest newspaper; funded primarily by the prominent Ghanaian NGO, The Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC); small-circulation but heavy hitting and influential among policy and government circles. The Chronicle, a medium-sized Accra-based private daily newspaper Crusading Guide, a populist Accra daily that features muckraking journalism. Business and Financial Times, a business-focused weekly newspaper modeled on the Financial Times. Business and Economic Journalism in Ghana Business and economic journalism, as a specialization, is still relatively young in Ghana, as many journalists acknowledged during interviews. Until quite recently, they noted, most of Ghana s newspapers did not put any emphasis on business and economic journalism, and stories were apparently written on an ad hoc basis rather than for specific sections or columns. However, with Ghana s strong economic growth under the New Patriotic Party government of John Agyekum Kufuor (who ruled Ghana from ), business and economic journalism picked up momentum. Today, many of the main daily newspapers maintain a dedicated business section of perhaps two to four pages. In addition, in recent years, new business- and economics=focused publications have been created in response to increased interest in business and financial reporting. These publications include Business Week, the daily Business and Financial Times, and the Business Graphic, a new weekly publication published by the state-owned Graphic news company. Many of the journalists interviewed for this report stated that the creation of these new publications was a good sign for the development of Ghana s business and economic reporting. 40

47 The rise of business-focused journalism is bringing with it a new crop of business and economicsfocused journalists. However, the majority of these journalists have had little formal training in business and economics reporting save the training programs detailed in this report. Primarily because of the dearth of specialized reporters, all those journalists interviewed for this project acknowledged that business and economic journalism has a long way to go in Ghana. Our researcher asked Ama Achia, a reporter with the public interest newspaper Public Agenda, if the Ghanaian media is doing a sufficient job at covering business and economic matters. Her reply was ambiguous. Yes, she said, in the sense that more papers are now specializing in business and economic issues, and that some papers like Public Agenda set aside more space for these issues, [but] no in that coverage is still focused on sensational issues, not substantive ones, such as the national economy. Many journalists repeated the view that the country s appetite for news was focused only on entertainment and politics. Indeed, many journalists stated that the public s lack of interest in such issues was the biggest impediment to business and economic journalism s growth, and that the market for news required a fundamental shift if business and economic matters were going to get the attention they deserved. The private media s dependence on advertising for revenue, as noted above, has had a pronounced effect on business and economic reporting, according to almost all of the journalists interviewed. A reporter with the Daily Guide, the largest private daily in Ghana, said that her paper avoided stories about their biggest advertisers for fear of disrupting an important income stream. In-depth reporting on business and economic matters also seemed to be rare, as most coverage falls within the realm of hard news and stories generated by press releases issued by businesses. Thus few business and economics feature stories or investigative reports are being produced in Ghana, which many journalists acknowledged as a significant weakness in economic and business coverage. Content Analysis A basic content analysis of Ghanaian print media coverage of the extractive industries reveals a press that appears aware of the impact of the extractive industries on Ghana s economy and society, but is either unable or unwilling to report on these industries with the depth and substance that they demand. Most print coverage of the extractives industries falls into two broad categories: promotional and public relations stories for the extractive businesses themselves, and critical stories that deride these same businesses for alleged abuses; the former being more common than the latter. Few articles seem to cross this praise/attack divide by presenting a more comprehensive picture of the extractive industries in Ghana. Those articles which promoted the activities of the extractive industries range from press releasetype stories to company announcements to stories about the economic promise of the extractive industries, particularly in regards to Ghana s new oil finds. Stories related to Ghana s mining operations are, of course, most frequent given that Ghana s oil industry is only just getting started. Press release stories are newspaper articles that seem to be simply rewritten company press releases (and often are, according to journalists interviewed for this study). Many of these articles seem to originate from a mining company s public relations department, such as Newmont, the American 41

48 mining company active in Ghana. These stories might highlight Newmont s support for malaria prevention ( Newmont Sponsors Malaria Prevention 122 ), for example, or its funding of an education seminar for children on the benefits of mining ( Children Briefed On Importance Of Mining 123 ) and its support of local environmental clubs ( Newmont Supports Formation of Environmental Clubs 124 ). The stories themselves read like press releases, with perhaps a couple of quotes from a company spokesperson, and a general description of the event or announcement. Promotional stories provide businesses like Newmont with a positive media image. A recent article in The Ghanaian Chronicle about Newmont s funding of some classrooms reveals how sycophantic such coverage can be: Newmont, one of the most prolific and magnificent mining companies in the world, was established in 1921, and came to Ghana in August 2002 ( Newmont Akyem to Support Four Communities 125 ). More common in Ghana s print media are news stories that cover official mining company announcements and initiatives. These stories, again, read like press releases, are usually singlesourced (a company s written statement or a quote from a company representative), and generally offer positive coverage of the company (i.e., Newmont Appoints Regional Vice President 126 ). Print coverage of the mining industry in Ghana is not all positive, however, and many stories published are critical of the impact that mining is having on Ghanaian communities. These stories tend to focus on allegations made by civil society organizations concerning the environmental damage caused by a project ( Mining Coalition Objects to Surface Mining in Forest Reserves 127 ), calls for better distribution of national wealth ( Wacam Calls for Better Royalties On Mining 128 ), or a company s poor or discriminatory treatment of its workers ( Newmont Denies Banning Women From Getting Pregnant 129 ). However, like the positive stories about the extractive industries, these critical stories tend to be minimally sourced, and do not usually attempt to investigate the allegations or offer the accused an opportunity to respond. As a result, it s difficult to get a balanced and nuanced picture of the mining industry in Ghana from media coverage. Notably, however, numerous Ghanaian newspapers appear to publish both types of stories about the extractives, both negative and positive, suggesting that there is space within the same papers to present different perspectives so that media coverage of the extractive isn t totally imbalanced. Coverage of the oil discoveries in Ghana and plans for extraction is generally positive and optimistic, focusing on the discovery s potential for wealth creation and economic development. However, 122 Newmont Sponsors Malaria Prevention, Accra Mail, 17 May Kingsley E. Hope, Children Briefed On Importance Of Mining, The Ghanaian Times, 27 April Michael Boateng, Newmont Supports Formation of Environmental Clubs, Ghanaian Chronicle, 6 March Isaac Akweetey, Newmont Akyem to Support Four Communities, The Ghanaian Chronicle, 7 April 2009: 126 Newmont Appoints Regional Vice President, The Ghanaian Times, 17 May Accessed 8 December 2008: 127 Mining coalition objects to surface mining in forest reserves, Ghana News Agency, 13 July 2008: 128 Daniel Nonor, Wacam Calls for Better Royalties On Mining, The Ghanaian Chronicle, 7 May Michael Boateng, Newmont Denies Banning Women From Getting Pregnant, The Ghanaian Chronicle, 7 January 2008: 42

49 coverage of the oil industry is also somewhat guarded and perhaps informed by knowledge of oil s predilection for trouble in West Africa. The Ghanaian Times, one of Ghana s state-funded newspapers, published a series of editorials in 2008 about Ghana s prospect for oil production ( Benefits of the Oil Find, Preparing for the Oil Future, and The Oil Find ) that illustrated a sense of the paper s responsibility in covering the oil finds. The editorials made several recommendations to political leaders to ensure that the oil becomes a blessing and not a curse. However, overall, the oil discoveries and plans for production received surprisingly little coverage given oil s importance to Ghana s economic future. In the run-up to Ghana s presidential elections in December 2008, oil was rarely mentioned in articles about the race, despite the fact that the election winner would also gain substantial control over how to manage Ghana s new oil industry. Most articles about the oil industry concerned new discoveries and prospects; these would make front page news. Rarely did newspapers publish substantial reports about the oil discoveries, much less the contracts being written up in back rooms to determine prices and royalties that ultimately decide how much of Ghana s oil wealth will stay in country. Several journalists interviewed for this project said there simply wasn t much to report until oil production goes online in Rather, the best coverage of Ghana s nascent oil industry is appearing in foreign newspapers and media outlets like The Financial Times and BBC. Many journalists interviewed expressed regret that such reporting isn t being done by Ghanaian reporters given that the oil frenzy is taking place in their own country. Of the Ghanaian newspapers surveyed for this content analysis, the most substantial coverage of the extractive industries was found in the pages of Public Agenda, the Accra-based public interest paper. Public Agenda is funded by one of the main civil society organizations in the country, Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC). Public Agenda regularly publishes in-depth articles about the mining industry ( Who Benefits from Ghana's Mining Laws? 130 ), the oil sector ( Ghana Must Play the Oil Game its Own Way 131 ), and editorials on important topics like the resource curse ( Ghana: Experimenting with the Resource Curse 132 ). While substantial in its coverage of the mining and oil sectors, Public Agenda is also openly biased towards presenting those perspectives not offered in the more mainstream press, with an emphasis on the environment, gender issues, worker and human rights, and equitable economic development. Of course, openly subjective media outlets can still be important resources for news and information, particularly in a country like Ghana where the media is either unable or unwilling to cover certain stories. As a whole, Ghana s print media coverage of the extractive industries is unimpressive. Coverage is generally insubstantial and skin-deep. Different perspectives on the mining industry are offered, for example, but rarely do articles engage the totality of the issue at hand or evenly present both pro and con arguments. In-depth investigative articles, crucial to monitoring an industry notoriously lacking 130 Asks Ebenezer Hanson, Who benefits from Ghana's mining laws?, Public Agenda, 20 April 2009: 131 Frederick Asiamah, Ghana must play the oil game its own way, Public Agenda, 9 February 2009: 132 Dayo Olaide, Ghana: experimenting with the resource curse, Public Agenda, 9 March 2009: 43

50 in transparency, are simply not being written. Like most other Ghanaian print reporting, coverage of the extractive industries is limited almost entirely to hard news stories: announcements, statements, allegations, and events. Hard news stories are important, but the extractive industries require much more comprehensive reporting. Based on this very limited analysis of Ghanaian print coverage of the extractives, it would appear that the Ghanaian media could be doing a much better job at covering an industry that is increasingly vital to Ghana s economic development. Challenges to Journalism in Ghana Cross-cutting challenges The African Media Development Initiative (AMDI), a project launched by the BBC World Service Trust in 2006 to increase support for the development of African media, estimated in 2006 that there were 2,000 working journalists in Ghana, a third of whom were graduates of the Ghana Institute of Journalism s post-secondary school training program. Journalism in Ghana is a difficult, often temporary profession for people in their 20s and 30s that offers few enticements. Our researcher found that while many of the journalists interviewed were passionate about journalism, the realities of the profession low pay, unreliable work, few opportunities for advancement, and the poorly regarded professional status of journalism meant that many journalists inevitably leave their beats for higher salaries in the private sector, especially public relations, and for diplomatic work. That they gain contacts for their new jobs while working as journalists is certain, and probably one of the few real perks of the profession. Journalism in Ghana suffers from being poorly regarded as a profession. Journalism s status, in turn, affects the quality of reporting and the talent it can attract and retain. Several veteran journalists interviewed for this report expressed their frustration over their chosen profession s poor standing in Ghanaian society. Francis Kokutse, a 20-year veteran journalist who now writes for the Wall Street Journal and international wire services, told a story that highlights journalism s status in the country: My colleague from journalism school, who went into the army, is now a colonel. He meets me in the street, and his younger junior officers assume that the colonel is better off than me. Because we journalists don't use ranks, to them I m just a bloody reporter walking the streets of Accra. Another veteran journalist, over an interview at the Ghana Press Association s lush open-air restaurant, says that it s easy to tell who has stayed in journalism and who has gotten out just by how they get around Accra. He pointed to two women getting into a sparkling black SUV and said that the woman driving was the owner and left journalism some years ago for a career in public relations. She was giving a ride to the other woman, a former colleague who never left journalism, and who gets around town by catching rides from friends because she can t afford her own car. Journalists low, sometimes non-existent pay in Ghana also means that the profession is highly susceptible to interference from business interests. 133 As a result, businesses regularly offer much- 133 From asking a few journalists, it seemed that the better paid journalists (working for Ghanaian newspapers) were paid around $350/month, while journalists at the smaller private papers probably average around $85/month, though many 44

51 needed supplementary income to cash-strapped journalists in exchange for positive coverage. This influence-peddling is apparently especially common in the extractive industries. Direct cash payments are also apparently commonplace in business-reporting in general. Our researcher was told on numerous occasions that the outright buying of the news is a regular phenomenon, and even considered routine and not necessarily problematic by many journalists. (It must be noted that none of the journalists interviewed claimed to have taken any direct payments in exchange for positive coverage, only that they d witnessed it regularly.) Anas Anas, editor with the Crusading Guide and a well-known Ghanaian investigative reporter, said that another challenge to the media in Ghana also related to the poor regard in which the public holds the media is the lack of confidence that people have in the industry to be a positive force. Anas said that Ghanaians, in general, do not see the media as a business entity itself that can spur on economic development, which, he argues, is very problematic for a media industry that needs investment and a better image if it is to develop. Challenges specific to business and economic journalists Somewhat surprisingly, almost every journalist interviewed for this report identified the same challenges to being a business and economic journalist. Far and away, the most commonly mentioned challenges were: 1. Poor access to information 2. The capabilities and expertise of the journalists themselves, including a lack of specialization and training in business and economics reporting 3. Lack of resources within media organizations, including funding for travel, expenses, and access to equipment Chart 2: Among the Ghanaian journalists who completed the survey, the biggest obstacles to their work were lack of knowledge and skills (including new media) and poor pay. reporters do not receive a salary from the publication but rather receive income from writing stories that businesses pay for. 45

52 Access to information Nearly every journalist interviewed told a story about how difficult it is to get information in Ghana, both from the private and public sectors. Businesses, journalists said, were usually very reluctant to share information with the media. Many journalists attributed this to a lack of trust between the private sector and the media. And many businesses, according to journalists, simply don t see the rationale or benefit in working with the media, or why and how it might be in their best interest to do so. Government is just as closed as the private sector when it comes to information, if not more so, according to all journalists interviewed. Journalists say Ghana s government knows very well that information is power, and it doesn t intend to cede much of it to the Fourth Estate, particularly around sensitive issues such as budgetary matters and royalty agreements over Ghana s vast natural resources. Many journalists complained that access to even uncontroversial documents like announced budgets and government policy is sometimes never granted. Jo Ellen Fair, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, wrote a recent article in Dissent magazine in which she examined the Ghanaian government s soft control of the press: A media system that is private, commercial, but acutely aware that it serves a nation bound to the state in other words, a normal media system in our neoliberal age is constantly but softly controlled by the interests that it serves In early January [2008], the current minister of information told the press, Although you have sometimes been critical of government, you have really enriched good governance in this county. While I urge you toward greater professionalism and accuracy, I assure you all that this government appreciates your contribution and will continue to work with you to ensure the preservation of your freedoms and the protection of your rights. Journalists understand that such words are both hortatory and cautionary. They also understand that if they do not heed calls to shape up, their work may draw the ire of the National Media Commission, which sets ethical guidelines and broadcast standards, monitors news content, and enforces the right of persons offended by press reports to reply. Fair s critique of the soft control wielded by Ghana s government corresponds with what many journalists complained about in their dealings with both the government and the private sector. The journalists unanimously agreed that passage of the Freedom of Information Act bill, delayed in the Parliament since 2003, would significantly improve the ability of journalists to gather information from the government. Many journalists also said that access to sources and experts was also extremely limited, and greatly affected the quality of journalism produced in the country. To some degree, journalists said that this was because there simply are not many experts on the relevant issues in Ghana, particularly around technical business and economic matters like the extractive industries. However, even when there are experts and knowledgeable sources, getting them to agree to an interview can be very difficult. Edmund Mingle of the Ghanaian Times said that many sources didn t want to comment because of political concerns, for fear that if they say something (even uncontroversial), they might be perceived 46

53 as supporting one political party or another. In Ghana, where the ruling party has such disproportionate influence (and where business contracts are made and broken by a company s influence over those in power), even short interviews can apparently have serious consequences. Mingle said that media audiences read into comments far too much. Even though the Ghanaian Times is state-owned (and therefore generally considered to be without party bias), Mingle said he still has trouble tracking down comments, as the problem cuts across the media landscape. Journalists across the board thought that developing trust between business and the media was crucial if business and economic journalism is to improve. Limitations imposed by journalist capacity and lack of expertise Most journalists interviewed were forthright about their lack of business and economics expertise, even those who had participated in substantive training programs like the IIJ program in Berlin. As noted above, the journalism diploma programs on offer in Ghana do not provide any specialized training in business and economics reporting. While our researcher was unable to obtain curriculums for the university and diploma degrees in journalism, interviews suggest that these programs do not offer any specific training in business and economic journalism. However, several of the journalists interviewed were either enrolled or planned to enroll in an economics or business university degree program in Ghana in order to develop some expertise around these very important issues. Another problem arising from many journalists lack of expertise in business and economic issues, according to numerous journalists interviewed, is that companies seem to intentionally bombard journalists with technical language and quantitative data that journalists find difficult to decipher, much less transform into something digestible to the Ghanaian public. One consequence of journalists lack of expertise in business reporting, which is also due to other factors, is the common practice of basically regurgitating company press releases for the front page of the business section. Many journalists complained that much of business reporting in Ghana involves only the re-writing of private sector releases and announcements into news stories that rarely go beyond anything skin-deep, much less investigate company claims or facts and figures. This, of course, is not a problem unique to Ghanaian journalism. Lack of resources available to journalists The general lack of resources available to journalists in Ghana is a major challenge for journalists covering business and the economy, according to every journalist interviewed, even those at the relatively well-funded state media publications like the Daily Graphic. Journalists complained that they had little or no access to basic resources such as reimbursement for travel expenses, even to get around within Accra, which given the cost of owning a car or taking taxis can be very expensive. Travel outside of Accra for reporting purposes was almost always prohibitively expensive, and one of the main reasons why private-sector travel sponsorship and organization of junkets is so problematic. If the media organizations themselves can t pay for journalists to travel to the mining areas independently, they are almost always happy to send journalists on trips organized by the companies themselves. These company-sponsored trips (often luxurious for poorly paid journalists) inevitably color the reporting done on the relevant industries. Journalists said that access to equipment was also a problem. While most newsrooms our researcher visited seemed to have working computers, Internet access was not at all common. Access to a personal laptop (taken for granted by journalists in the developed world) was very uncommon. The 47

54 state-funded newspapers seemed to have the best computers new Apple desktops and it seems fair to assume that they may have been donated to the government. Moreover, given the relatively low salaries of journalists, many are unable to cover even basic journalism-related expenses themselves, like travel or research materials (though many said they would if they could). A few dedicated journalists said they spent their own money to travel to other parts of Ghana to report on important stories, but that this practice was costly and unsustainable. George Frimpong, of the Chronicle, said that as long as there is poverty, there will be a problem with resources for journalists. Hopefully, some alternative can be developed to provide such resources to journalists before Ghana eradicates poverty. Challenges to reporting on the extractive industries in Ghana Reporting on the extractive industries in Ghana presents a series of challenges specific to the sector. These challenges include the vast resources of the extractive sector businesses themselves (which are used to great effect at self-promotion and the buying-off of media organizations), a profound lack of expertise on extractive issues among Ghanaian journalists, government intervention in stories critical of the extractives and a general lack of interest among the media-consuming public (and journalists) about the negative impact of extractive industries on Ghana. Foremost among these challenges is the great imbalance between the resources of the Ghanaian media and the resources of the extractive sector companies. The latter, of course, dwarf that of the Ghanaian media. Indeed, the Ghana public relations budget for Newmont, a prominent American mining company with major operations in Ghana, is probably comparable to the budgets of several of Ghana s larger private dailies combined. Extractive sector businesses use their resources in several different ways, some direct and some indirect, to influence coverage of their activities, according to those Ghanaians interviewed for this report. Firstly, extractive industry businesses are major advertisers in Ghanaian newspapers. These advertisements affect coverage because, oftentimes, newspaper publishers don t want to risk loss of income by publishing stories critical of the extractives sector companies that are also buying space in the newspaper. Ama Achia, a reporter with Public Agenda, said that mining companies effectively bought off much of Ghana s media, because, she says, the media cannot bite the hand that feeds you. The extractive industry companies are also able to affect coverage by controlling the stories that are written about the industry. On the one hand, some journalists allege that some companies essentially pay journalists directly for positive coverage. Much more common, according to journalists, is the practice of companies funding junkets for journalists to travel to areas in Ghana where the extractive industries are present (most often the mining areas of Ghana, as oil is still a new sector). These junkets, usually luxurious, with journalists put up in extravagant hotels and fed in expensive restaurants, are usually scheduled down to the minute, so that journalists only receive the company line. As noted above, journalists are not able to take these trips on their own, for lack of funding from their media houses. Therefore, these trips are often the only occasions during which reporters experience the extractive industries firsthand. If these company-organized trips are the sole influence on journalists perception of extractives, then obviously their reporting will reflect that perception. 48

55 Numerous journalists recounted how these trips serve to influence the media s reporting of extractive issues. Mustapha Suleman, with the Daily Graphic newspaper, said that most of the coverage of the extractive industries has been from sponsorship from the mining company. Suleman recounted a trip organized by AngloGold (a major South African mining company) to one of the mines it operates. Mustapha said the trip included stays in fine hotels and fine meals but was surprised by the naïveté of many of the journalists who didn t consider the company s ulterior motives in keeping them happy. Suleman said the two-day trip was chock full of information about everything the company had done for its employees, but never brought up the project s impact on the surrounding community. Suleman said that he tried, with difficulty, to pull away from the junket to visit the community himself. The company instead insisted on providing a community member to interview, who Suleman said was obviously put up to the job. Eventually, Suleman ducked out, saying he would fund his own way back, and managed to interview members of the local community, who told a very different story. Another challenge to reporting on the extractives in Ghana is simply getting permission to travel to certain areas where businesses are in operation. According to Joss Cephas, a freelancer and writer with the Daily Guide, Ghana s Ministry of Mining is responsible for granting passes to journalists to visit mining areas. Cephas said it s often very difficult to come by these passes, further restricting the media from covering the extractives. Ghanaian journalists face especially severe restrictions on access to information when reporting the extractive industries. Cephas said that when he visits the Ministry of Land or the Ministry of Mining to inquire about something related to the extractives, most of the relevant documents are strictly embargoed, and more so than for other industries. Other journalists said that a major challenge to extractive journalism, like business and economic reporting in general, is lack of access to experts and sources. Veteran journalist Francis Kokutse said that for there to be better coverage of the extractives, more people (including civil society, academics and analysts) need to be engaged and involved in the industry. This would mean more resources for journalists. Even when advocacy groups try to present their own point of view to the media about the impact of the mining companies, the extractive businesses often interfere, according to Emelia Ennin, of the Daily Guide. She recalled a meeting organized by the Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM), the largest and most organized mining community organization in Ghana. Many journalists were invited and showed up to the meeting in Accra. However, Ennin said, Newmont also sent their public relations team to the meeting and worked the audience before the meeting began, in an apparent attempt to discredit the NGO s findings before they could even present them. Ennin said that it is difficult for non-profits like WACAM to counter the powerful PR machines behind the extractive sector companies. Government intervention presents another problem for journalists seeking to report on the extractive industries. Amos Safo, editor of Public Agenda, said that his newspaper broke a story in 2008 about a junket that Anglo-Gold funded for government Members of Parliament, which resulted in all sorts of positive perks for the South African mining company. Public Agenda then revealed that AngloGold was also funding these same politicians reelection campaigns. No other media outlet pursued this story, no doubt for fear of retribution, which Public Agenda experienced when the MPs brought the newspaper before Ghana s National Media Commission for penalization. 49

56 Public Agenda escaped without being penalized, but not before expending precious time and resources to fight the litigation. Dr. Audrey Gadzekpo, director of the University of Ghana at Legon s School of Communications, said that extractive industry journalism also suffers from a polarization in the stories that are published about the industry. Gadzekpo said that almost all extractive stories can be broken down into two types: (1) press release and event stories promoted by the extractive companies, and (2) advocacy-type stories that criticize industry practices or impacts. Gadzekpo said that not much holistic reporting is happening, which represents a weakness in the Ghanaian media s coverage of the extractives. Numerous journalists interviewed for the project expressed similar sentiments. Many journalists recognized the importance of the extractive industries and wanted to produce stories that looked at the full impact, both positive and negative, of the extractives. However, they said that challenges they face make such stories exceedingly difficult to pursue. Another problem related to extractive industry coverage involves the section under which stories are reported. Rayborn Bulley, of Institute for Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ), said that too many extractive industry stories end up in the environmental section of newspapers, and are not treated as business stories in their own right, which ultimately discredits coverage of an important aspect of the economy. Several journalists also said that a major challenge to covering the extractives was simply the lack of interest among the reading public and journalists themselves. Veteran journalist Francis Kokutse said he was surprised when he found that no one, except him, was covering the construction of the West African Gas Pipeline, a major regional infrastructure project. He also said there was little interest among publishers in running with the story, simply because it wouldn t be of interest to readers. Readers do, however, seem to respond to positive coverage of the extractives. Many journalists said stories about the potential riches of the extractive industries (from the recent oil discoveries, for instance) were well-received by Ghanaians hoping to get rich. Worryingly, news coverage of the recent oil discoveries and plans for extraction has been underwhelming, according to many journalists interviewed for this project. Coverage of the oil industry emanates almost entirely from the oil companies that publish and promote very technical press releases that aren t explained, said Rayborn Bulley of IFEJ. Another oft-heard frustration from journalists is that breaking news about Ghana s oil finds (a new discovery or development) usually originates from company press conferences or statements made in New York or London, and not from within Ghana. All in all, coverage of the extractive industries in Ghana seems woefully insufficient, given these industries impact on the national economy, particularly considering that Ghana s nascent oil industry is about to grow significantly. When asked what Ghana s media should focus on, Marian Adjei of the Concorde without prompting said the extractive sector. Coverage of these industries, Adjei said, is less than 10 percent of what needs to be done. The Impact of Training Programs The following section focuses on the impact that various journalism-training programs are having on Ghanaian journalism. 50

57 Training programs available to business and economic journalists in Ghana For no discernable reason, a large number of Ghanaian interviewees had attended the IIJ training in Berlin; thus, much of the interview data is focused on this program. Also, many interviewees had attended multiple training programs. Indeed, it seems that participation in one program often led to more training opportunities, such that a core of some of the best-trained journalists in Ghana were familiar with many of the programs, and each other from these programs. Impact of training on journalists All the journalists interviewed in Ghana that had participated in substantial journalism training programs, such as those listed above, were extremely enthusiastic about their experiences. The two editors-in-chief interviewed for this project were also very positive about the training programs for their journalists (and had participated in several of the programs themselves). For many of the journalists, their participation in one of the training programs marked their first experience with an in-depth, specialized journalism-training program. Most of the journalists interviewed were graduates of the Ghana Institute for Journalism (GIJ). Ghana s diploma programs are two-years in length, and roughly the equivalent of a junior college degree in the United States. Most of the journalists described their GIJ diploma as insufficient for any sort of specialization. Notably, the GIJ curriculum does not put any emphasis on business and economic journalism. 134 One journalist with the Ghana News Agency said that the GIJ s curriculum was lacking and mostly theory, which was not useful. Walter Kudzodzi, a former journalist who now works for the Australian Embassy, said that Ghana s journalism schools barely scratch the surface of journalism, and that much of the training takes place after rookie journalists get out into the field. Many veteran journalists interviewed said that the lack of specialization among Ghana s journalists is a major detriment to the media s coverage of business and economic matters. Some of the journalists interviewed had completed a university degree, or were in the middle of such a program, usually in journalism or communications. A few of the former and veteran journalists had studied in journalism or communications programs abroad, notably at Cardiff University in Wales. Training programs, while imparting real business and economic specialization, also serve to underscore fundamental journalistic practices for many of the participants. Many of the journalists described their training programs as transformational experiences for them as journalists. Several said that the training exposed them to important journalistic principles that they hadn t before studied in any depth. Samuel Ablordeppey of the Daily Graphic said that the training taught him about the importance of the so what in a story, which changes everything and makes you go for the essence of the story. Another Daily Graphic reporter recounted being taught about the importance of being balanced in one s reporting. After the World Bank Institute training, this reporter said that he endeavored to show both sides of any story, which he realized he hadn t been doing prior to the training. All interviewees said that the programs allowed them to cover new topics and beats when they returned to their newspaper. Journalists told of different new topics that they had received training 134 On a related note, some journalists said that restructuring GIJ s curriculum is an important task and should be a priority for any organization wanting to impact media coverage in Ghana. 51

58 on that they then were able to cover with much more confidence and expertise. The topics most frequently mentioned as having been helpful to their work were budget monitoring and reporting, the insurance industry, banking, the stock exchange and international financial institutions (IFIs) like the World Bank and the IMF. Interestingly, the topic that journalists identified as most lacking from the various training programs was the extractive industries; the three-month IIJ program includes a short segment on the extractives, which journalists said was useful but not sufficient to meet their needs. 135 In addition to being able to cover new topics, many journalists enthusiastically described the impact that the trainings had on their ability to interpret and use figures and information. One journalist told me that she had been on the World Bank s media list, but had mostly ignored it before she completed the IIJ training, whereas after her crash course in the IFIs she now takes the time to read through it and see what I can include in my column on social business stories. Another journalist, Marian Adjei, of the Concorde newspaper, said that the trainings taught her how to write business and economic stories that would appeal to her readers, and make abstract issues pertinent and interesting to the man or woman on the street. After the IIJ training, Adjei said she was able to analyze [world trade issues], understand them, and write a gripping story about them that someone could pick up that wasn t just another minister-said-this-story. Some reporters noted some unexpected downsides to the training. Ama Achia, a reporter with Public Agenda, explained a common downside: When you come back from the training program, you yearn to do more, but you don t get the opportunity to really focus on one area. While Achia was given new topics upon her return to the paper after the three-month IIJ program, she also had to go back to covering her old beats, which limited her capacity to try out her new skills. Samuel Ablordeppey, a journalist with the Daily Guide, also said he couldn t pursue stories he wanted to write after the training because they were too technical and apparently not suitable for the paper. Edmund Mingle, of the Ghanaian Times, told our researcher that the IIJ training significantly developed his features writing skills, but that he hadn t been able to use them since returning to the job, as features aren t very common in Ghanaian newspapers. Many journalists complained that they weren t able to fully incorporate their training into their work. Criticisms of the training programs themselves were minimal and were generally about the relevance of particular topics (several journalists complained that the IIJ s component on corruption used German case models that had little relevance to Ghana) or the poor performance of a particular trainer. Newspaper editors on the impact of the training programs Fortune Alimi, editor-in-chief at the Daily Guide, one of the largest private dailies in Ghana, said that the IIJ trainings in particular diversified [the journalists ] work, with more background, and more substantial content. Alimi said that because of journalists training on how to conduct online research, his journalists reports are now much richer. Alimi noted with pride that six of his reporters are pursuing university degrees while on the job, and said he noticed a trend across the industry where more journalists are getting advanced degrees than in the past. 135 Please note that all subjects covered in the trainings are included in the survey data section of this report. 52

59 Amos Safo, editor-in-chief at the public interest newspaper Public Agenda, also found the trainings to be extremely valuable: there is always improvement when someone goes out for training. Safo added that after his reporters have completed trainings he gives them new roles and responsibilities within the news organization. While the Ghana researcher interviewed only three newspaper editors, it seemed that most editors were happy to send their best reporters out for trainings (whereas our researcher had suspected the opposite might be the case), and see the trainings as valuable opportunities to build their newsroom s capacity and the skills sets of their journalists. Alimi said that an additional benefit to the trainings was that he encouraged journalists that had attended the training programs to help train other journalists in the newsroom in their new skills. It seemed that the training programs affected more journalists than those who were able to attend them. The impact of trainings on journalist careers In terms of the impact these programs had on the journalists careers, the majority of journalists indicated that they had received some sort of promotion as a result of their attending the training. However, these promotions did not necessarily result in substantial or any pay increases, if pay was increased at all sometimes only their titles were changed. Several journalists said they were promoted from reporters to editors or assistant editors. Our researcher also noted an obvious trend whereby the most senior reporters at a given publication had also attended the most training programs, with the exception of some of the most senior editors at the larger publications, who seemed to have entered journalism before such training opportunities were available. Interestingly, this generational difference within the newsrooms meant many of the younger journalists, with all the trainings under their belt, felt that they had much more knowledge and specialization than their editors. Inevitably, this led to some conflict whereby the younger journalists (with all this new expertise) felt stymied by their more traditional editors. Given that journalism is a poorly regarded career in Ghana, we were also interested in finding out whether journalists were using the training programs as stepping stones to new, more lucrative and stable careers. Several ex-journalists told our researcher that training programs had improved their non-journalism careers, but the programs had had no direct impact on them getting out of the media industry. Rather, these journalists said that the trainings led to promotions and greater opportunities, which in turn led to their gaining more contacts and visibility, which ultimately probably helped them find other employment. That said, it did not seem that journalists were using the training programs to find better jobs. Rather, the problem seems to be that journalism, as a career, is not meeting the needs of many of its best practitioners. Workshop training programs Short-term training programs or workshops are quite common in Ghana. Usually organized by an organization with a stake in a particular issue, these workshops tend be quite partial and specific. However, some organizations, like the Third World Network (TWN) regularly organize journalist workshops that cover a range of issues. While they certainly have express advocacy goals, like educating journalists as to a particular environmental problem or to train journalists on the effects of cyanide used in mining areas, organizations like TWN have gained credibility from journalists for their thorough approach to the issues and their availability as a resource on certain issues. 53

60 Other groups, like the Institute for Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ), have been established specifically to respond to the needs of business and economic journalists. IFEJ, for example, regularly hosts short-term trainings (perhaps one or two days in length) around a specific economic issue, like budget reporting, or a workshop on the oil industry (IFEJ planned to organize just such a training in the spring of 2009). The conveners and executive officers of IFEJ are journalists or former journalists themselves, and therefore know what training and expertise practicing journalists need. Interviewees frequently mentioned Oxfam as another group that organized helpful, short-term workshops for journalists. However, while short-term workshops serve a certain niche, and are appreciated by journalists (many of whom were very enthusiastic about IFEJ in particular) most journalists agreed that they do not provide sufficient training for many business and economic reporting topics. 54

61 Notes on conducting research in Ghana Jonathan Hulland, the Ghana researcher, arrived in Accra on December 30, 2008, two days after a presidential election run-off vote, and in the middle of Ghana s Christmas holiday. During our researcher s two and a half week-stay in Accra, it proved difficult to track down journalists for interviews due to the election. The election itself remained unresolved until January 5, 2009, with the occasional violent skirmish that threatened to spill over into something more serious. As such, the city was more or less paralyzed for the first few days of the trip. Even after the election was resolved, many newspapers remained shut for an annual Christmas/New Year s holiday that dragged on until the middle of January, making it impossible to reach certain publications. Many journalists went back to their family homes during this time, and were not available in Accra. However, Jonathan still managed to conduct 22 interviews with a variety of interview subjects, including past and present journalists, NGO workers, and academics. Other than the time constraint imposed by the trip s length and the unfortunate timing of the trip, the main challenges to the research involved trip logistics (expenses and transportation) and several no-show interviews. Accra s brutal traffic, for instance, limited the number of meetings possible in a day. The capitol city was also more expensive than anticipated, which contributed somewhat to research difficulties (avoiding taxis was almost impossible, and fares quickly added up, for example). Eating out was also quite costly, for all but the cheapest street food was priced comparably to food in New York. Development gaps also impeded ease of research. Internet in Ghana, for instance, is still making inroads. Good connections exist, but they are rare. A reasonably high bandwidth connection for personal household use is still prohibitively expensive, costing upwards of $200 per month. Basic hotels with even spotty, slow Internet were, as a result, quite expensive (starting at $60 a night). Indeed much of Accra seemed to function on a dual-economy: with richer-country prices for any products or services used by the well-to-do and those engaged in development and business, and local prices for much everything else. Overall, however, Accra proved to be an easy-going, welcoming city that seemed well accustomed to influxes of researchers and NGO-workers. 55

62 Uganda 56

63 Background 136 Literacy and Education Uganda introduced its Universal Primary Education (UPE) program in Since the program s implementation, the number of children in primary education has more than doubled, from 3 million to 7.4 million today. Approximately 49.4 percent of children in primary schools are girls 137 Just under 50 percent of children are estimated to reach fifth grade, with 15 percent of youth reaching secondary school. Between 2002 and 2005, public expenditure on education accounted for 18.3 percent of total government expenditures, or 5.2 percent of GDP. Sixty-two percent of the public money spent on education is targeted toward primary education, 24 percent toward secondary and 12 percent toward tertiary. Approximately 67 percent of Uganda s adult population (58 percent of women and 76 percent of men) can read and write. The youth (ages 15-24) literacy rate is slightly higher, at 76.6 percent. 138 Media Landscape 139 Fewer than 1000 practicing journalists currently work in Uganda, according to a 2006 report by the BBC World Service Trust. Of these, approximately 12 are full-time business and economics reporters. Radio Uganda s media landscape is dominated by radio. In 2006, the BBC World Service Trust reported that more than 90 percent of the country s population had weekly access to the radio, and just under 50 percent of households listed radio as their primary information source in Uganda s 2002 census. Many radio broadcasts take place in local dialects, of which Uganda has more than 50, or in a blend of local dialect and English, which is Uganda s official language. The majority of Uganda s nearly 100 radio stations are privately owned, though the government does attempt to exert control over program content. During the 2006 presidential elections, the radio frequency of KFM, a station owned by the largest private media group in Uganda, was jammed for several days after broadcasting election results which contradicted those reported by the stateowned Star FM; in 2004 a church-owned radio station in northeastern Uganda was shut down for more than a week for reporting on the insurgency in the area. 140 Television A 2005 survey conducted by InterMedia estimated that less than one third of Uganda s population had watched television in the last year. Three of Uganda s four television stations are privately owned, though, as with radio, they face pressure to avoid broadcasting content that might be viewed as critical of the government or the ruling party. 136 Photo on previous page: Gara, Stefan, photographer. Street life. Photograph From: Flickr: Stefan Gara s photostream, 137 UNESCO, Education: Literacy: Africa, 138 UNDP Human Development Reports, 2007/2008 Human Development Report: Uganda, 139 John Watsuna Khamalwa, Uganda: Research findings and conclusions, BBC World Service Trust: Africa Media Development Initiative (2006). All information in the Uganda Media Landscape section is from this report unless otherwise indicated. 140 Ugandan police close church-owned radio, afrolnews, June 25, 2004, 57

64 Newspapers Uganda s print media are dominated by two major newspapers, the state-owned New Vision and the Daily Monitor. The New Vision and its local language publications, Bukedde (published in Luganda), Etop (Ateso), Orumuri (Runyakitara) and Rupiny (Luo) have the largest market share, with a combined daily circulation of over 60,000. The Daily Monitor, owned by the Kenya-based Nation Media Group, has a daily circulation of 15,000. Other notable publications include the weekly East African, Red Pepper, Observer and Sunrise. Though newspapers cover the widest range of topics and provide the most extensive political coverage of all media in Uganda, less than 1 percent of households report print media as their primary source of information, according to the BBC World Service Trust. Newspapers are also subject to the same government pressures as radio and television, and several journalists report having been physically attacked and/or charged with crimes ranging from sedition to the more general media offenses after publishing stories seen as threatening to the ruling party. Business and Economic Journalism Most of those interviewed were disappointed with the quality of business and economic journalism in Uganda. The general consensus is that business reporting does not receive enough emphasis in the Ugandan media (business journalism is used as filler in most papers, said one associate editor). Newspapers often fail to support the business desk to the satisfaction of business editors and reporters. Summing up this view, one reporter for a major daily emphasized the need to convince management to attach more importance to business reporting. 141 Several interviewees did note that things have improved in the last three to five years: one indicator of this is that both the Daily Monitor and The New Vision began publishing weekly business inserts in late Several of those interviewed attributed the overall lack of focus on business journalism to Uganda s general business climate: the Ugandan economy is resurrecting from a long slumber after Idi Amin s destructive economic policies, said one reporter, and the country has little industrial activity on which to report. Still, many others complained that most stories are reported from the perspective of businesses or exporters and fail to relate business news to consumers and ordinary citizens. In 2005, the World Bank estimated that 90 percent of Uganda s non-farm private employees operate in the informal sector 142, but Ugandan business stories usually focus exclusively on the formal sector, ignoring a substantial part of the country s economic activity. Regardless of the reasons for this weakness, the majority of those interviewed agreed that strengthening business journalism in Uganda is vital: politics will never stabilize when the finances are not okay, said one editor, stressing the need for better and more comprehensive business reporting. Everything is business-oriented somehow. Extractives Journalism Ugandan media began reporting on the oil industry in 2006, when the discovery of oil was first announced to the public. One reporter who covers the industry for a major daily paper said there is all sorts of lively commentary all the time about oil in the media, and he believes the public has 141 Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January World Bank, Urban Informal Sector in Uganda, April/May 2005, percent20informal percent20sector.pdf. 58

65 sufficient information about developments in the industry. 143 Another journalist at a daily paper believes extractives reporters have sufficient freedom and ability to avoid or mitigate the negative impacts of oil by educating the public. 144 The consensus among those interviewed is that the media are doing a good job covering oil to the extent that the financial resources and specialized knowledge necessary to do so exist, but that more funding and knowledge would greatly increase the quality of coverage. Content Analysis The 2006 discovery of oil in Lake Albert in the Hoima district of southwestern Uganda set off a flurry of interest across the country, which has been reflected in the media. Given the oil industry s recent emergence in Uganda, print media coverage thus far seems relatively good, with attention being paid to details of agreements and articles pushing for greater transparency. Most coverage does not heavily vet the oil companies themselves, perhaps reflecting the country s hopes that they deliver an economic transformation. Overall, the Ugandan media seems to be adjusting, albeit slowly, to Uganda s impending economic changes. Public relations stories concerning Tullow Oil and Heritage Oil and Gas, the two oil companies operating in Hoima, have already begun to bubble up in the press, such as a story on Tullow s sponsorship of a team of rugby-playing orphans touring the UK ( Tullow Oil to Send 13 Kids to UK 145 ). Such articles are still relatively few in number, though they will likely increase as Tullow and Heritage establish themselves in Uganda. For now, the Ugandan print media seems to be focusing primarily on the prospects for their newfound wealth. Many articles have focused on still-unpublished details of oil agreements between the government and the oil companies. Interestingly, the state-owned New Vision has been at the forefront of the media s efforts to push for greater transparency in these agreements. A recent article in the New Vision ( Oil Sharing Deal Still Clothed in Secrecy 146 ) is tough on the government for not being more transparent: Although the ministry of energy and mineral development asserts that the country will receive 70 percent of all revenue generated during the oil production period, the assertions cannot be verified independently because the agreements have never been released to the public. A recent editorial in the New Vision described the negative impacts of oil in Nigeria and urged Uganda s administration to begin with utmost transparency let people see and know what exactly is going on, involve local leaders in the planning on environmental assessments, environmental protection, oil-revenue sharing, and attendant development for locals when the project begin to yield oil. 147 Other articles educate the public about the importance of transparency and accountability in the extractive industries, as in this except from a recent Sunday Monitor article ( Lack of Transparency May Threaten Uganda s Future as an Oil-Producer 148 ): 143 Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo, Tullow Oil to Send 13 Kids to UK, Daily Monitor, September 26, Ibrahim Kasita, Oil Sharing Deal Still Clothed in Secrecy, New Vision, December 10, Opio Oloya, Uganda: Use New Oil Resources to Improve Lives of Citizens, New Vision, February 29, 2009, 148 Elizabeth Palchik Allen, Lack of transparency may threaten Uganda s future as an oil-producer, Daily Monitor, September 14, 2008, 59

66 As Uganda becomes an oil-producing state, its ability to avoid conflict and strengthen its economy will depend on the kind of planning that happens now. In this regard, the information contained within documents called production sharing agreements which are contracts signed between the government and various oil companies becomes critical. This article lucidly explains various complex aspects of oil industry. In addition, Uganda has a dedicated business weekly, the East African Business Week, which regularly publishes articles on the business aspects of the extractives industry. Concern at the falling price of oil and its potential to stunt Uganda s promised boom has also led to numerous articles and editorials questioning Uganda s reliance on such a fast-changing commodity (New Vision: What is Plan B for Oil, Is Uganda s Oil Boom in Danger? ). Print media have also published informed articles and opinion pieces on the specter of the resource curse (New Vision: Why Oil Revenues Could Spell Doom for Country?, Daily Monitor: Norway Warns Country Over Oil ). Though the government s continued refusal to release the details of its production sharing agreements with the oil companies has prevented journalists from engaging in detailed analysis of how the discovery will affect individual citizens, the Ugandan media seem to be rising to the challenge of reporting the transformation brought by the development of a major new oil industry. Challenges to Journalism in Uganda Government Pressure Freedom of expression and freedom of the media are protected by Uganda s constitution, but the current regime has not hesitated to bring charges of defamation against journalists whom it felt posed a threat. 149 Many journalists practice self-censorship to avoid arrest 150, and the past five years have shown a marked crackdown on media, with government agents raiding the offices of independent newspapers 151 and arresting reporters critical of the ruling party. 152 The government also interferes by tapping journalists phones, and one editor for an independent paper carries several mobile phones to avoid having his calls traced. 153 Though government pressure mostly affects political journalists, business and economics writers are not immune. Nearly half of those interviewed reported having stories pulled, having faced lawsuits -producer_71576.shtml. 149 Tone Bratteli, The media sector in Uganda. Norwegian report, Norway Development Co-operation in Uganda, 150 Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Uganda: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices , United States Department of State, March 6, 2007, 151 Reporters Without Borders, Police raid newspaper at the end of a week of harassment, November 18, 2005, 152 Reporters Without Borders, Government continues to tighten its grip on the press with elections now 50 days away, January 2, 2006, 153 Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January 8. 60

67 or criminal charges for content the government deemed threatening, or knowing a colleague who had experienced such pressure. The hardest part of being a journalist in Uganda is there are some 'untouchables,' or people who cannot be criticized in the media, said one editor. 154 Another journalist writing for an independent weekly was more blunt: the first family owns almost half of Kampala, he said. If reporters write about them, the next day they'll come hunting for you. 155 The most common form of government pressure involves legal charges against reporters from Ministers, military officers and other government offices or representatives who feel they have been negatively portrayed. The Ugandan police have a Media Offences Department dedicated to the prosecution of these cases, and journalists can lose multiple days of work at a time as they wait to be questioned. Though many of these cases ended without jail time or fines for the journalists involved, the constant harassment can take a toll on reporters, who may choose to avoid covering controversial topics in the face of legal threats. Such pressure kills your passion for writing, said a freelance business writer for a major daily paper. 1 Business Pressure Advertising pressure is a major source of concern for Ugandan business reporters. Media has to dance to the tune of the advertisers, said one reporter at a major newspaper. 156 If you don t write PR [public relations] stories, you won t get adverts, said another journalist for a major daily. 157 Banks and telecommunications companies, which, along with government, are the biggest advertisers, tend to exert the most pressure. No one can criticize MTN [the largest telecommunications company in the country] because papers rely so much on the company s advertising, said an editor at a weekly paper. 158 Chart 3: Ugandan journalists found a lack of knowledge and skills and political and government pressure not to publish to be the biggest obstacles to their work, followed by poor pay. 154 Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by author. Kampala, Uganda, January

68 Limited Resources Uganda has made serious efforts to correct its current power shortage, including a recent pledge to use its own resources to construct a $1.2 billion dam on the Nile River. However, the electricity penetration rate is still low, and local manufacturers estimate that power and fuel shortages will cause a 5 percent drop in GDP in Load-shedding, or a controlled rolling blackout, is common in Kampala, and is expected to increase this year as a result of the energy crisis. 160 Uganda s Internet penetration rate grew from 0.2 percent to 2.5 percent between 2000 and Most Ugandans who can afford to use the Internet go to public cafés, which are prevalent in Kampala. Access generally costs between 1500 and 6000 Ugandan shillings ($0.70 to $2.78) per hour. 162 Large businesses, including most major media organizations, are able to offer their employees regular Internet access. Still, expensive, unreliable bandwidth makes browsing slow. Multiple journalists expressed frustration at either lack of access to Internet or a lack of time to fully utilize online resources. While fewer than one percent of Ugandans have landline telephones, approximately 80 percent of the population has access to a mobile phone. 163 Lack of Access to Information Nearly everyone interviewed mentioned lack of access to information as a major obstacle to his or her work. The Access to Information Act of 2005 and Article 41 of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda both guarantee citizens the right of access to information and records in the possession of the state or any public body, except where the release of the information is likely to prejudice the security or sovereignty of the state or interfere with the right to the privacy of any other person, but many of those interviewed reported delays of up to a year when requesting access to government records supposedly covered by the law. 164 The biggest case of this recently has been with regard to the profit sharing agreements between the government and the oil companies working in southwestern Uganda. These contracts are technically public information, but journalists at nearly every media organization our team member visited said they had been trying to get copies of the agreements for four months without success. Obtaining information from businesses is also difficult. Multiple informants complained that business journalism is like public relations in Uganda, as companies are willing to give out so little information that many papers simply republish press releases. Informants reported that businesses often claim information is classified or too sensitive to release, and one business editor at a major paper complained that his reporters often resort to conjecture and extrapolation because they 159 Fuel, power shortage to cost Uganda economy 400 mln dollars, China View, January 7, 2009, 160 Ismail Musa Ladu, Load-shedding to resume, says Eskom, Daily Monitor, January 10, 2009, 161 World Bank, ICT at a Glance: Uganda, 4~pagePK: ~piPK: ~theSitePK:239419,00.html. 162 Samuel Gitta and J.R. Ikoja-Odongo, The impact of cybercafés on information services in Uganda, First Monday 8, no. 4 (2003), 163 MobileActive, Uganda, 164 Ugandan Access to Information Act, 2005, Section 5.1, July 19,

69 have such difficulty obtaining information from reliable sources. 165 Salaries The 2006 Africa Media Development Initiative (AMDI) report on Uganda noted, Journalists are paid relatively well compared to other occupations, such as teaching. 166 The report estimated average salaries for freelance journalists at $165 per month and for salaried reporters at $380 to $3200 per month. Journalists in Uganda, however, reported monthly salaries of between $100 and $ The AMDI report compares this salary to an average monthly salary of $165 for secondary school teachers, which it claims is a comparable profession. However, media organizations often cannot afford to supply journalists with the transportation, mobile phone airtime, audio recorders or even notebooks and pens necessary to report, meaning journalists must pay for these supplies out of their own pockets. The majority of those interviewed mentioned low pay as a serious challenge to the quality of their reporting. Lack of funds causes journalists to miss out on reporting opportunities: one editor for an independent weekly was unable to travel to Ruhiira, approximately three hours by car from Kampala, to report on the Millennium Villages Project there. Several reporters working at both daily and weekly newspapers felt the quality of their reporting on the oil industry had suffered because they had been unable to travel to the oil fields in Hoima in southwestern Uganda. Several reporters and editors noted that journalists are often reluctant to do investigative reporting because attending corporate- or government-sponsored events, where travel and food expenses are covered, is easier. One editor said that in Ugandan journalism, hard work doesn t pay. 168 This lack of funding affects reporters resources on the job, but a reporter at an independent weekly paper noted that it also makes it difficult to cultivate sources. Several reporters said they were unable to go to the places where major businesspeople spend their time including Kampala s major clubs and casinos to make contact with them. One reporter at a daily newspaper noted that during her training experience with the International Institute for Journalism she had been encouraged to take contacts out for drinks to cultivate them as sources, but that few freelancers or even staff journalists have the financial capacity to do this. 169 Corruption Business is one of the most corrupt journalist beats in this country, said a reporter for an independent weekly magazine. 170 Because salaries are low, journalists are more easily susceptible to bribes: Some reporters receive the brown envelope, and even when the bank governor talks trash they will praise him, said a reporter at a weekly magazine. 171 Some writers reportedly work side jobs as public relations officers for the companies they cover as journalists. 165 Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January John Watsuna Khamalwa, Uganda: Research findings and conclusions, BBC World Service Trust: Africa Media Development Initiative (2006). 167 Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January 5; Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January

70 Retention Many of those interviewed said that a substantial number of their colleagues had left journalism for other professions, mainly corporate and non-profit communications, due to stress or low salaries. An editor for a weekly paper said the salary in Uganda is peanuts compared to what journalists make in Kenya. One reporter at a major daily estimated that 80 percent of her colleagues had left the media, and several of those interviewed described their plans to leave the field for jobs ranging from agriculture to small businesses. Many attributed this trend to the fact that opportunities for promotion are rare at most media organizations in Uganda, and the director of the Makerere University Department of Mass Communications noted that many graduates from the school use journalism as a transition to more established careers. 172 Still, many of those interviewed expressed a passion for journalism and a determination to stay in the media industry. Business reporting demands a lot but I like what I do, said one freelancer. 173 Business is one of the best beats, said another reporter who writes for a weekly paper. 174 Potential Challenges for Training Organizations Of the challenges described above, including a sometimes unreliable infrastructure and general obstacles for journalists, several are particularly relevant for organizations attempting to conduct media trainings in Uganda. The first of these is the general attitude toward business journalism in the country: while business journalists are clamoring for more training, the effects of this training may be difficult to discern until both media companies and media audiences take business journalism more seriously. While an increase in trained journalists is certainly an important step toward greater development of business journalism, training organizations should keep this in mind. Cost is also an issue. While major media companies tend to be able to afford to send journalists abroad for training and to continue to operate smoothly in their absence, most independent newspapers and most radio stations lack the necessary funding and manpower. Training organizations should work to avoid disproportionately offering training to journalists who already have access to greater resources and should target reporters at smaller media companies. The Impact of Training Programs Of the 20 journalists interviewed in Uganda, seven had attended a training sponsored by the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ) in Berlin, six had attended a training sponsored by Thomson-Reuters (Reuters) in London, and three had attended a local training sponsored by the World Bank (WB). Five had attended trainings sponsored by various American universities, by the United States Department of State or by smaller media organizations. Some journalists had attended multiple trainings; three had not attended any formal training programs aside from degree or certificate programs at Ugandan universities. 172 George Lugalambi Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January

71 The majority of those interviewed believed that training is the best way to improve business and economic journalism in Uganda. The biggest problem we have is training, said one broadcast journalist 175 ; training, training, training, emphasized a former reporter. 176 Training programs available to business and economic journalists in Uganda Nearly everyone interviewed said a lack of training was one of the biggest challenges for business and economics reporters. Local training opportunities are rare, and many editors complained that even university-educated journalists enter the job market lacking basic reporting and writing skills. The Uganda Management Institute, widely cited as the top journalism school in the country, recently closed its journalism program due to lack of funding, and Makerere University offers no business journalism courses. Existing training opportunities for business journalists are so infrequent that an associate editor for a weekly magazine said that as far as business and economic journalism goes, you make it up as you go. 177 Universities Makerere University in Kampala was widely cited as offering the best undergraduate degree program in journalism, though no specialized business courses are currently available. In 2008, the Department of Mass Communications hired a curriculum consultant, and the school is dividing the current Bachelor of Mass Communications program into two degrees, one in communications and one in journalism. The department would like to encourage specialization in topical areas, including environment, health, business and politics, but the director noted that school s ability to offer these tracks depends on the funding they receive from the university and on the expertise of the people they are able to hire with that funding. Several of those interviewed said that the Uganda Management Institute used to have the best journalism degree program in the country, but that it closed recently due to a lack of funding. Additional universities offering degree programs in journalism include Kampala International University, Mbale University, Uganda Christian (Mukono) University and the Islamic University in Uganda. Many editors and experienced journalists criticized recent graduates from Makerere and other universities, however. New graduates leave a lot to be desired, said one broadcast reporter, and it can take two to three years on the job for someone with a degree in journalism to develop appropriate reporting and writing skills. 178 The business editor for a major daily said the best way to improve the quality of business journalism in Uganda would be to improve university programs. Additional Training Opportunities Few organizations in Uganda offer specialized business journalism training opportunities. Several reporters have attended workshops at the Capital Markets Authority and the Uganda Security Exchange, and one editor said the Uganda Media Development Foundation offers free, one-day trainings. 175 Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January 6. 65

72 The Daily Monitor and the New Vision offer their employees in-house training in general reporting skills. The Monitor occasionally sends reporters to Nairobi for short trainings with its parent company, the Nation Media Group. Impact on Reporting I m a changed person completely, said a business editor at a major paper about his training with Reuters. Until the first training in London, I wasn t thinking outside the box. 179 An editor at a radio station described his ability to analyze business issues from a broader, more informed perspective after attending an IIJ training, saying, Before I went there, I was like a man who is walking on the ground. But now I move in [a] helicopter. 180 These sentiments were echoed repeatedly by journalists who had attended trainings abroad, the majority of whom credited their training experiences with helping them hone their reporting skills and with expanding their knowledge of important business and economics issues. Business is the most abused area of journalism, said an associate editor at a weekly magazine, in the sense that both readers and writers use terms like inflation without knowing exactly what it means or how it affects Uganda s economy. 181 Trainings educate reporters on economic concepts, both basic and advanced, and both editors and journalists said that increasing the level of business and economics knowledge through training had a direct positive impact on the quality of business reporting. Journalists need the flexibility to apply concepts to different sectors, and trainings help them develop this skill so they can focus on complex issues instead of repeatedly asking the same basic questions. One former editor who has worked at multiple media organizations said that the trainings gave journalists the confidence to tackle these [business] issues that they had previously avoided. 182 The trainings also helped reshape or further develop reporters approaches to business reporting and to journalism in general. One reporter for a major newspaper said the training opened [trainees ] minds to the potential of business reporting, teaching them how to be more creative in identifying and sourcing business stories. 183 The information on how to develop stories is the one thing that has remained relevant since the training, said an editor who attended several years ago, and many of those interviewed continue to use the new sources introduced during the trainings, including databases of economic information, various business-focused web sites and other online tools. 184 In addition, the exposure to and interaction with concepts, organizations and people outside of Africa were invaluable to many reporters, helping them to place their work in a larger context. The most useful topics covered in the trainings, according to survey results, were business reporting (12 of 18 survey respondents ranked this as very helpful ); economic development (9 respondents); and a tie between government budgets and fiscal spending, investigative reporting, stock markets, corporate reporting, macroeconomic indicators and online resources of economic information (8 respondents). In interviews, several journalists also mentioned ethics training and information on how to avoid corruption. Those who had received training in ethics said it helped them renew their 179 Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January 8. 66

73 commitment to their profession and encouraged them to write more thorough, better researched stories. Impact on Media Community Many of those who had attended trainings abroad said that the connections they had made with colleagues in other countries were one of the most valuable and long-lasting parts of their training experiences. Ugandan journalists use online social networking tools, such as Google Groups and Facebook, to stay in touch with training colleagues and trainers, and they report that this has been useful both socially, as journalists are able to share their struggles and get input from others who have been in similar situations, and professionally, as they share and help each other source stories. Impact on Career Opportunities Of the journalists interviewed, only four were promoted within their companies after attending a training organized by an international media organization, and only three of these promotions were accompanied by an increase in pay. Three other journalists took jobs in other organizations: two went to different media companies and a third now works as director of communications for a company in the private sector. The business editor at a major daily said that some of the reporters he has sent to trainings have moved from junior to senior reporting positions, and one became deputy editor. At another major newspaper, the business editor said reporters are not generally promoted after the trainings because his newsroom lacks the appropriate structure for this. Many of the reporters he has sent to trainings are still freelancers, but some have had their pay increased after trainings. Editors at several of Uganda s smaller independent papers have seen some of their reporters leave for larger media companies after receiving training. One editor called his own paper a training ground for Uganda s major dailies and said that 25 percent of the staff at the Daily Monitor had passed through his company at some point in time. 185 Criticisms of Trainings Western Focus The majority of the criticisms Ugandan journalists had about their training experiences concerned what they felt was an overly Western or developed world approach. Several reporters mentioned that the IIJ trainings they attended had included too many Western examples, particularly with respect to corruption in government and businesses. A reporter at a daily paper said these examples didn't help [him] at all. 186 One associate editor at a major weekly magazine criticized the Reuters program because it takes people away from their home countries and treats participants as if journalists in Malawi and journalists in South Africa had the same needs. He remarked that the only thing business journalists in different African countries have in common is that they both get their stories from Reuters and said that more localized trainings would help address countryspecific needs. 187 While trips to stock exchanges, banks and business were inspiring for some journalists, others mentioned feeling frustrated after their trainings because they could not immediately apply what they 185 Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January 8. 67

74 had learned abroad in the Uganda media environment. One editor described a field trip to a power plant in Berlin. The plant was designed to be quiet enough to be located near apartments and offices. The plant blew [him] away, but the trip was useless as an educational tool because it will be years for [Ugandans] to have something like that. 188 Program Design Several participants reported feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information they were expected to digest during the training program. One reporter at a daily paper said she needed more time to process and practice what had been taught and that some colleagues were just copying and pasting from the Internet to complete their training assignments. 189 An editor from an independent weekly agreed, The course is big and it is compressed in a very short period of time. 190 Participant Selection and Cost One broadcast journalist said he believes training is the best way to overcome the challenges business and economics journalists face, but he cautioned that the Ugandan government is currently sponsoring a number of loyal reporters to go to trainings. These journalists return from the trainings and are hired for editorial positions over those who have had less training but are perhaps, in his view, more impartial journalists. 191 Cost can be a major obstacle to training, particularly for smaller media organizations, and it is important to make sure that those who are sponsored by the government are not the only ones who can attend international training programs. Some journalists also expressed a need for a better vetting process for training program participants. Several reported that many of their colleagues returned from trainings and failed to utilize the skills they had learned abroad. These journalists were frustrated and asked for more follow-up by training organizers to ensure that those selected to attend make use of the trainings in their daily work. 188 Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January Ugandan Interviewee # Interview by Rebekah Heacock. Kampala, Uganda, January 6. 68

75 Notes on Conducting Research in Uganda Preparation for the January 2009 research trip to Uganda went smoothly, as our researcher, Rebekah Heacock, had previously spent time in the country. During the trip, an hour or more each day was spent calling contacts and arranging meetings, and five to six hours per day interviewing or traveling to interviews. This system worked well, and our researcher was able to meet with 20 current and former journalists and with the head of the Mass Communications Department at Makerere University, Uganda's largest tertiary educational institution. Smaller than both Accra and Lagos, Kampala is comparatively easily navigable. Still, traffic can be problematic at times, and transportation proved to be the biggest expense: fuel prices in the country rose during the Kenyan post-election crisis in late 2007/early 2008 and have yet to go back down, making transportation costs higher than expected. Our researcher was familiar with the city, and she was able to use reliable motorcycle taxi drivers for the bulk of her transport, cutting both taxi costs and transportation times. The majority of respondents were eager to help with the project, though some meetings were rushed due to interviewees' schedules. The written survey caused the most difficulty, and our team member made several revisions in the field to make the questions and format easier for interviewees to understand. 69

76 Recommendations 70

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