Please Give Us Business News in Kenya Other than Quoting the Market Capitalization
This past week, a Twitter user threw shade at business journalists in Kenya saying that all they do is take selfies at events and not offer thought provoking insight and analysis on the state of economy and finance in the country, region or continent. Sad to say, I agree with the Twitter user. Business journalism in Kenya fails to hit the mark, at a time when they should be at the fore-front of telling our stories in the best way.
Remember the TV show called The News Room? The News Room revolved around the intrigues of working in a news organization while focusing on the life of Will McAvoy. What really got to me about the TV show was the character of Sloan Sabbith. Sloan was the economics/business/finance newscaster for ACN, the show’s media house. Sloan was this finance nerd with an insane mastery of the Bloomberg terminal coupled with an uncanny ability to relay geo-political matters, economic data and financial reports. The show ended but her character lives on.
I am a finance and economic news nutcase. My weekends are spent watching Bloomberg TV and CNBC. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is stumble to the WSJ app on my phone to get up to date with the finance world. I cannot fully call myself a finance whizz as I studied Computer Science, but I am a guy who knows a lot of finance and economics than the above average human being. Given, I can confidently offer a qualified and objective opinion on the financial news reporting in Kenya.
This year alone, I have read only one local article that marveled me. The article appeared on Daily Nation’s Smart Company and all I thought was my God, who wrote this? The article by Joshua Masinde covered listed company Transcentury and offered deep, thought provoking, informative insight onto the company, its business model, the share price, its outlook and included an interview with CEO Gachao Kiuna. After reading, I left with so much knowledge of Transcentury that as an investor, I would make an informed decision by purely reading that. I also think Ramah Nyang does an impeccable job with business reporting. Take for example his latest interview with Bob Collymore, which I found to be informative.
Thing is, business journalism is such a niche segment in Kenya. You either get it or you don’t. A friend of mine tried arguing that the current crop of business journalists are trying to break down business news to make it understandable to the local mwananchi. Well, good for them but there is the reader out there who wants the hard questions, the numbers, the insight. To this end, we are not covered. I sometimes read articles and get rattled, wondering is this writer just looking to meet their daily targets or what? FYI, interviewing the guy involved or at the top and asking him two or three cosmetic questions does not cut it.
Business reporters need to get off Twitter first and read a little. Twitter is a good medium for collecting news and information but its led to sentimentalization. Before writing this post, I made it my point to in the last one week watch the 9 o’clock business news which is meant to be comprehensive. My office is generous enough to buy all the dailies including getting the free ones and I would rush to read the business segments. What did I find out? Looks like the filth posted on Twitter has managed to find its way into the newsroom. Seems like the reporters get opinions from tweets and get a work around on them to generate stories. It sucks. Take for example the recent high yields offered by the Central Bank of Kenya for 91-day T-Bills. I have never seen so much ignorance in tweets as I did then. Somehow, the same proliferated into the newsroom and was taken as truth with little research. Yes, there are a few guys out there who know their stuff on Twitter but the bulk of the people do not even know what Treasury bills, Yields or Liquidity is. So, how their sentiments end up being taken as truth beats me!
Its about time business journalists locally shaped up. You have been reading the NSE market capitalization, the gainers and losers on the bourse for far too long. Take it a step further and offer insight! Majority of Kenyans have no idea how to buy a share or even what is a share. Why don’t you tell them that guys?
Next, please get off Twitter and take the time to equip yourself with various finance concepts. Take the time to understand macroeconomic factors and their effects. It would be nice if you log onto Bloomberg, Reuters, CNBC and Fox Business every morning and not to look for stories to copy and paste but to understand the global business environment and the effects of the same in our market. Now more than ever, these things are interrelated. It would be nice if, you used your Twitter accounts to make sense of these things for your audience because they never made it to the news instead of the other way round.
Third, we are a growing economy. I am not sure we shall hit the World Bank projections but we are growing. There are stories out there on a thriving manufacturing sector and I am not talking about 30 seconds report but something that informs us. It would be nice to see a deep coverage of the SGR, an interview with the CBK governor on monetary policy in Kenya and possibly real data crunching with regards to the wage bill. That, I and many others would appreciate.