Business and financial analysts, do they matter?
Undoubtedly yes. The watchdog function of financial and business journalists in protecting stock market and business environment was brought under scrutiny during the Global Financial Crisis 2007-2008 (GFC) for failing to interconnect effectively with financial actors such as business or financial analysts in the development, construction, production and dissemination of financial news narratives to investors.
Similarly, the Ghanaian financial journalists were subtly blamed for failing to connect with market analysts in its reportage to alert the market before Ghana’s financial sector clean-up by the Bank of Ghana, the Central Bank in 2018. Nine (9) banks: Heritage, Capital, Sovereign, Premium, Construction, Beige, Royal, UT, and Unibank had their first-class banking licenses revoked. It is therefore imperative for financial journalists to connect with market and business analysts in news coverage. Business and financial analysts’ sources remain important and relevant to business sectors across the globe.
In addition, business analysts’ remarks are the lenses through which investors formulate business informed decisions. Hence, ignoring business analysts’ remarks or references in banking news reporting is likely to stifle investors of critical business and financial information. For, business journalists acting as corporate watchdogs, are enjoined by business reporting ethics to critically interrogate corporate practices, financial states and behavior as a way of providing strategic financial investment guidelines to the public and upholding the values of media accountability.
Financial news narrative and its business impact:
In no light terms, financial and business journalists impact on financial, stock market, political and economic spaces within society. For instance, negative and positive emotions, tones in analysts’ quotes and paraphrases attach to banking news narratives could affect and influence panic levels among investors, trading markets and the public. Furthermore, financial and business analysts’ references in business news narratives impact on business sector by educating and informing the public about financial world, investment opportunities and subsequently provide insight to the banking sector.
Challenges facing financial journalism in Ghana:
From an observational point, a sharp change in the Ghanaian traditional media ecosystems due to the new media – online news - has in a way contributed to high drop in advertisement revenues which has affected employment of financial journalists and editors. The very few assigned and dedicated journalists too are somehow overstretched. Also, the financial journalists lack the needed financial resources and news gathering logistics from their media establishments to embark on financial and business research. In addition, resource for consistent training in financial and business news reporting remains inadequate. Furthermore, it appears the challenges facing Ghanaian financial journalists has contributed to financial news texture that may easily be described as what I term financial and banking public relations stories. Certainly, these financial journalists can not entirely be blamed, but needs to be resourced with the necessary tools.
The role of business and financial analysts references in the financial sector of a society, informed IBNA, to ascertain the level of financial analysts references in Ghanaian banking news reportage from January to March (Q1), 2021 under IBNA’s Global Media Standards Measurement Index (IBNA-GMSMI). The scope covers only Business newspapers (B&FT, Business Finder, and Economy Times). Study units under review were banking news articles: Examples (BoG issues new guidelines to regulate inward remittances, Standard Bank forecasts 3.5% growth rate for Ghana in 2021, Ghana cedi to be stable for the rest of 2021, Govt borrowing appetite squeezes lending to private sector). News editorials and features were excluded. Methodological application was quantitative news content coding and appraisals. This study is somehow limited by the short period, non-inclusion of Radio, TV, and Online media hence this study serves as a pointer for business and financial news reporting. The study revealed the following:
In an analysis of 88 banking and financial news stories from 59 business newspaper editions for financial and business analysts references in news reportage, only 10% of financial analysts references and quotes were made. The analysts’ references were skewed around the following analysts’ sources: These financial analysts were Dr. Richmond Atuahene, a banking consultant, John Gatsi, an economist, Courage Martey an analyst with the Databank. Woefully, 90% of banking and financial news analysed were without analysts’ references. This style of financial news reporting is not encouraging for the Ghanaian banking and financial industry.
For a robust financial sector development, IBNA research recommends the business sector partners with business and financial journalists to offer consistent training. Media organisations are also encouraged to resource financial and business journalists for research oriented. As much as the constraints facing Ghanaian journalists is well appreciated, for an insightful investment projection, journalists are encouraged to wrap their business and financial stories around analysts’ references since business and financial analysts matter in business and financial news reporting.
The writer is a lecturer at the Communications Studies Department of the University of Professional Studies Accra (UPSA) and Founder of the Institute of Brands Narrative Analysis (IBNA) a strategic media intelligence and monitoring agency: Email- [email protected]