Investigating complex business and consumer issues and writing about them in an interesting manner can be difficult. Ten journalists from five countries attending a DW Akademie workshop have taken up the challenge.
Tigran Khachatryan from Armenia wants to know what to do if one of his published articles has a mistake in it. "What if I get a figure wrong or misquote someone?" he asks. "You have to correct it," answers Egyptian participant Hanan Elgendi, "otherwise you lose credibility." Khachatryan isn't convinced. "It isn't that easy," he says. "I work for a private news agency and if we corrected every small error we’d lose credibility with our customers. But we do correct major mistakes."
It is the start of a four-week DW Akademie workshop focusing on the basics of responsible reporting and the ten print and online journalists from Armenia, Egypt, Georgia, Kenya and Serbia are already deep in discussion."It's important for the participants to reflect on their own role as a journalist because it's fundamental to good journalism," says DW Akademie project manager, Jutta vom Hofe. Kenyan participant Doreen Wahu Wainaina appreciates the lively exchanges. "We're from different countries and have different experiences as journalists but we're all struggling with the same kinds of questions and issues," she says.
The participants will have the chance to exchange more ideas and experiences over the course of the workshop being held in Berlin as they hone their business and consumer affairs reporting skills. The course covers the concepts of research, asking probing questions and responsible journalism through a mix of discussions, positive examples and practical exercises. "Business topics are important – and they're often very complex," says Jutta vom Hofe. "One of the biggest challenges journalists face is to explain the relationship between things in a way that is easy and enjoyable to read."
Consumer rights in the marketplace
The Berlin workshop has a special focus on reporting on consumer affairs. "Germany has a lot of experience in this field and participants can benefit from that," says vom Hofe. "In the participants' home countries, consumer affairs journalism and consumer rights organizations are just starting to gain a foothold."
The participants will also visit several organizations such as the leading German organization for testing consumer products, Stiftung Warentest as well as the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. By the end of the four-week workshop, the ten participants will have produced their own magazine for business and consumer affairs.
The business and consumer affairs workshop is a continuation of the work of the former International Institute for Journalism (IIJ), which was under the aegis of the German development organization, GIZ. IIJ has now merged with DW Akademie. Print journalism is a welcome addition to DW Akademie's existing media projects and DW Akademie is working closely with former IIJ trainers and staff on the design and implementation of journalism training modules.