Saudi Arabia is seeing unprecedented change and growth, largely due to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts to open up society, modernize the economy and reduce its dependence on oil. This ambition, known as Vision 2030, represents a serious attempt to diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism.
With growth in the region expected to accelerate in 2018, and major upcoming initiatives such as the 5 percent sale of national oil company Saudi Aramco, there’s a growing need for financially fluent journalists to provide insightful economic commentary and analysis.
To address this need, Bloomberg joined forces with the MiSK Foundation to develop a week-long financial journalism training program in Dubai. The partnership with the Crown Prince’s philanthropic foundation aims to advance financial literacy and journalism in the region through training conducted by Matthew Winkler, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Bloomberg News; Paul Addison, Managing Editor of Global Training; and more than 20 journalists in Dubai and other Middle East bureaus.
Matthew Winkler, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Bloomberg News, said: “The centerpiece of the training program was The Bloomberg Way, our guide to newsgathering that has been the key to the success of Bloomberg News. Our Dubai newsroom was an ideal setting for students to learn how strong ethics and standards in reporting will help tell the story of Saudi Arabia’s economic transformation to benefit the public good.”
A first-of-its-kind program
Through this program, students broadened and deepened their knowledge of the Saudi economy through learning about topics most relevant and interesting to them – and potential clients. Program objectives included strengthening skills in capital markets and data analysis, and focused on promoting a transparent, data driven approach to financial reporting.
“The MiSK Bloomberg Financial Journalism Workshop is an excellent course where knowledge, performance, and experiences are intertwined to widen our horizons and offer us a very rewarding experience. Today, I have a holistic overview of the financial and journalism world; I am so pleased that the workshop focused topics and interactive sessions that will help us in our goals and endeavors in life,” said Amal Al-Ghammas, an MBA graduate of Al Faisal University in Riyadh.
In addition to covering financial concepts, students were also taught the core foundations of journalism, including ethics, journalism principles and the writing of headlines and leads. This was done using examples from Saudi Arabia and the broader Middle East. For instance, Ziad Daoud from Bloomberg Economics shared an overview of the Saudi economy, breaking down recurring concepts such as GDP into simple terms, and Dana El Baltaji updated students on the Middle Eastern markets.
“Throughout the week we had many sessions about different topics including the story of Bloomberg, multimedia skills for TV and Radio, using social media as a reporting tool, and writing skills, “commented Shaza Alsolbi an English and translation graduate of Effat University in Jeddah. “My favorite session covered government and politics in the Middle East. It tackled the ethics and the effort that it takes to report and write a political story the Bloomberg way.”
Inspiring the next generation
In general, the students were inspired by the talent and passion for journalism that each instructor demonstrated, and how every single instructor was not only willing, but excited, to engage with them outside of the classroom.
They were also especially inspired by the talent of the all-female panel “Women in Journalism in the Middle East,” moderated by Gwen Ackerman. With a class that was 75% female, students felt empowered after hearing first-hand how women journalists have made a difference covering major global topics, such as the conflict in Lebanon and social changes in Saudi Arabia.
Bloomberg has an important role to play in supporting Saudi Arabia’s growing knowledge economy and inspiring the next generation of journalists. This initiative supports Bloomberg’s commitment to promoting financial education and literacy in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and around the world including the Asian College of Journalism – Bloomberg Postgraduate Program in India, Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa, and Tsinghua University’s Global Business Journalism Program. We believe in the power of education and the financial markets to help promote growth and cooperation.
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