Thank you Sanlam Namibia
Last week I was fortunate to attend the Sanlam Summer School for Financial Journalists in Pretoria courtesy of a generous sponsorship from Sanlam Namibia.
Through a random draw, I was selected as the first local journalist to attend the prestigious summer school, the first time journalists from outside South Africa had been invited to the five-day training programme since its inception 13 years ago.
I have attended other training programmes before, but most, if not all, had failed to deliver on expectations.
So after my previous disappointments, I did not know what to expect when I arrived in Pretoria, but I quickly learnt that the training programme, as advertised, was designed for people in my line of work.
Led by veteran media trainer Elizabeth Barratt, the Sanlam Summer School was the missing ingredient in my professional carreer.
What made the training programme so special was the new skills I acquired on how to effectively analyse financial statements.
This was expertly delivered by Trevor Buckland from the Johannesburg School of Finance.
After the programme I feel I am better equipped as a business / financial reporter to analyse a company’s financials something that can only benefit my readers.
A former Star newspaper executive editor, Barrat also gave us training on the latest media trends and encouraged us to attend the various specialist training programmes available internationally for journalists to advance their careers.
I know the media industry in this country is very small compared to South Africa where the leading newspaper posts audited circulation figures of around 500,000 compared to around 30,000 for our country’s biggest selling newspaper, but any media house that doesn’t send its journalists for development courses risk becoming irrelevant.
The summer school taught me about the new media trends such as Data Journalism, and the use of the social media in disseminating information which unfortunately we have not been able to implement effectively in this country.
While I applaud local universities and colleges for the role they are playing in training our young journalists, I also feel that there is room for improvement in the way things are being done.
At the moment we don’t have specialised media training in this country, which is rather unfortunate.
In the end what we have is half baked media graduates who have to learn new skills on the job.
It is for this reason that I applaud Sanlam for having the vision to send a journalist to receive proper training in financial reporting.
I would like to challenge other corporates who have been beneficiaries of the media in the form of free advertising through the publication of their press releases disguised as news, to follow Sanlam’s example and send journalists on relevant courses that are likely to change the local media landscape.
Corporates can also invite media trainers into the country so that more journalists can be trained. This I believe will go a long away in improving the level of journalism that we have become so complacent with.