A new professional network, launched on 4 August by the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), aims to boost independent news production on business, financial and economic issues. The Business and Economics Network will be implemented in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Reporters Union (SLRU) and will bring together journalists, business people and economists to share ideas, build expertise and create opportunities for collaboration.
The network was born out of an interactive dialogue between the media and the business community, facilitated by Invest Salone, the UK government-funded private sector development initiative. Participants at the dialogue held in March agreed there was substantial unmet demand for better business and economics reporting in Sierra Leone. Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, President of SLAJ, highlighted the importance of economic issues, and the role played by journalists in helping us understand their impact on our day-to-day lives. However, journalists face challenges in Sierra Leone, according to Mr Nasralla: “There is a skill gap in the journalism profession and a trust gap between the media and business sectors. These impede good reporting. The SLAJ Business and Economics Network is intended to help provide solutions by creating a space where journalists and business professionals can learn from each other, share information and explore common ground.”
Lamrana Bah, President of SLRU and winner of the SLAJ award for best economic reporting in 2018, spoke about the value of business reporting: “Good journalism should bring business and economics to life, making stories about these subjects interesting and relevant to all audiences, not just specialists. We look forward to building the network so that it represents one of the most dynamic and exciting fields in journalism in Sierra Leone.”
Membership of the new SLAJ Business and Economics Network is free, and open to practising and aspiring journalists, as well as other professionals with a genuine interest in collaborating for a more inclusive economy through improved economic and business reporting in Sierra Leone. Membership benefits are designed to create opportunities for professional learning and recognition, career development and knowledge sharing, and networking and mentoring.
Invest Salone Team Leader Chukwu-Emeka Chikezie concluded: “Invest Salone works with the public and private sectors to identify, design and implement reforms that will reduce the costs and risks of doing business in Sierra Leone. An independent and vibrant press widens the scope for the expression of opinions and ideas outside the government, which can help improve policy making and accountable governance, and enable persuasive advocacy on business issues – all of which would contribute to creating a more enabling business environment and ultimately foster conditions for more inclusive growth, jobs and higher incomes for more Sierra Leoneans.”
SLAJ and SLRU welcome expressions of interest from journalists seeking to join the Business and Economics Network. For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.