|New AUB program aims for better business reporting
|The quality of regional business news needs to be improved, and the media needs to decrease its reliance on international sources for information, AUB Business School dean George Najjar said Friday.
Najjar and members of the business media discussed challenges facing the media in the Middle East at a seminar to mark the launch of the Business Information Academy at AUB.
The program, co-sponsored by the Reuters Foundation, will begin offering training workshops and certificate courses in February 2007 in an effort to raise the bar on the standards of business coverage and provide a link for the producers and consumers of business news.
Najjar said that reporting in the Middle East is currently characterized by "scanty, unreliable, conflicting, and more factual than interpretive information" that is "not sensitive to local needs."
The academy's "objective is to help bring together business leaders, journalists and others in order to produce more useful, accurate and objective information that will help policy-makers and business leaders make better decisions, which in turn will help move the economy forward," he said.
RoseMay Martin, the president of the Reuters Foundation, said the agency's first education initiative in the region will increase the news agency's access to local information and help track "business news consumption trends."
"The changes in the regulatory environment, particularly with corporate governance, make it more difficult for people to understand the news," Martin said. "It's really a situation of not seeing the woods for the trees."
Panelists agreed that while business reporters themselves are certainly at fault, the ambiguous relationship between the private sector and the media in the Middle East also influences the nature of coverage.
"The private sector is as much in need of training on how to deal with journalists as we are in need of training," said Ramzi al-Hafez, publisher of the monthly business magazine Lebanon Opportunities. "I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of companies in Lebanon with communication departments, and all the ministries in the government consider information to be proprietary, like a plan for a nuclear bomb that is kept secret."
The Daily Star