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Journalists to improve skills in economic reporting

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Accra, June 15, GNA - A specialized journalistic reportage co-named "Improved Financial and Economic Reportage Project," was launched in Accra on Tuesday by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The project aimed at improving the capacity of 100 media practitioners in investigating economic and financial issues would strengthen the ability of Journalists to contribute to dialogue as well as provide a thorough grounding for economic Journalists to play greater role in financial reportage.

USAID is sponsoring the project with 100,000 dollars to cover nine months.

The Journalists to be selected from Accra, Tema, Kumasi and Takoradi would also be exposed to the sensitivity of economic and financial reportage and its benefits to national development.

Dr Nii Noi Ashong, Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, officially launched the Project.

Mrs Carlin Yates, United States Ambassador, challenged Journalists to demystify economic terminologies and get the general public to understand economic development in the country, the West Africa Sub-Region and the international scene.

By now, given the amount of press coverage, most people have heard of the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC), the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the rest of the country's economic and trade policies.

The issues at stake, she said, was to make many Ghanaians to understand those economic and trade terms and policies.

It was also necessary for them to know how Ghana was selected as one of the eligible countries to benefit from those packages. She said it was Journalists who must help others to understand the processes for the people to evaluate Ghana's progress in comparison to other selected countries.

"The media has to play that critical role. And I challenge you to be that watchdog - but you need to be informed watchdogs." Accepting the challenge, the GJA President, Ms Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, admitted that finance and economic issues were not adequately highlighted in the media.

"Usually these feature prominently only when the national budget is presented or when there is a financial scandal. The day-to-day follow-ups on finance and economic issues that could help prevent wrong-doing are often tucked away in corners of newspapers and hardly dealt with," Ms Yeboah-Afari who is also the Editor of the Ghanaian Times noted.

Citing reasons for the apparent downplaying of economic and financial reportage, the GJA President said, that aspect of reporting required expertise knowledge to confront the issues as well as the confidence to challenge financial and economic experts.

Ms Yeboah-Afari said the nine-month project would change the financial reportage landscape as it was expected to lead to greater interest in specialization, identify challenges confronting the media in the pursuit of investigative reporting on economic and financial issues.

"It is also our desire that our Economic Journalists would use the media to highlight the challenges facing the private sector in particular and business in general," she emphasised.

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