Wits Journalism offers three courses in financial journalism. These can be taken as a certificate, at Honours or Masters level.
This course aims to provide working journalists with an overview of the discipline of financial reporting, to provide the necessary skills where they do not exist and hone what is already there. It is run part-time through weekly seminars. The course has a strong emphasis on the need to explain what can be complex in an accessible and engaging manner. The broad goal is to enhance financial literacy in the country by equipping journalists to better understand finance and economics.
The course draws extensively on contemporary events. For instance, the global economic lockdown of 2020 in response to the Covid crisis, was a major teaching moment for the 2020 class. Share prices collapsed, millions lost their jobs and financial markets at one stage all but froze, the crisis being likened by some experts to the worst economic shock in a century. For students of finance and economics this was a rare opportunity to observe markets in a state of major crisis – even near paralysis – in real time.
The course includes statistics, markets, companies, public debt, commercial and central banking. There is a special focus on economic inequality and reporting on climate financing, two of the most challenging issues of our times.
This course is for any journalist who wants to conquer the language of business and finance. The course has a practical focus, students being required, for instance, to report on markets and companies in real-time. At the end of the course, journalists should understand the key techniques of how to cover the economy. Areas covered include statistics, markets, companies, banking, central banking, trade and public finance.
The course has a strong emphasis on clear writing without the use of jargon. Financial journalism is offered online using the Zoom platform in the first semester, on Tuesdays between 4.00 pm and 6.00 pm, from February 23, 2021.
The coordinator is Kevin Davie (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Story of Money
The course considers the development of money and markets from ancient times up to the present, and evaluates the challenges which the global financial architecture faces at present. This includes asking to what extent present market structures will be able to withstand the impact which climate breakdown is expected to bring. It is aimed at our mid-career students, and is presented part-time on the basis of a weekly seminar over the course of the second semester.
It deals with the emergence of money from the earliest settled times, to understand the basics of how economies work. The course traces the history of money and finance and including the development of modern banking. The basics of money, interest, credit, debt and indebtedness are interrogated and dissected and interrogated.
The course also has a strong focus on developing writing and storytelling skills. Part of the course requirement is for students to complete a long-form essay of 5 000 words. These assignments are workshopped in class for participants to better understand the process of story identification and development, the critiquing in class contributing to the shaping of one another’s outputs.
Teaching focuses on current issues. Topics tackled this year include whether a white tax could be used to deal with apartheid debt; the motoring industry after Covid-19; how gig workers, notably motorbike delivery people, have navigated the pandemic; the Covid-19 impact on the informal sector and personal profiles of how different categories of workers have coped during these difficult times.
Classes are held on Tuesdays at 4.00 pm to 6.00 from August 2 to September 17, 2021. The course is run online using the Zoom platform. The cost is R9 000.
Introduction to Financial Journalism
This course is geared at journalists who wish to enter this field or want a better understanding of the workings of finance and the economy. The course can be thought of as financial journalism for non-financial journalists. The course material will include numeracy and financial literacy, and an overview of the key financial institutions. It will introduce the key financial terms and metrics used by working journalists, including those dealing with statistics, the economy and finance.
It will include sessions on using the Internet as a tool to access information and data. It will include news writing, with students being required to write up a number of stories using statistical, economic and financial data. The course also considers the role of the financial journalist in a modern economy and the debate between the relative roles of the public and private sectors in such an economy.
Representatives of key institutions such as the Reserve Bank, the JSE, National Treasury and StatsSA, as well as from the private sector, will be invited to address the class.
The course will be held over a two-week period between June 21 2021, from 08h30-16h00. This is assuming normal classes would have resumed by then. If Covid restrictions still apply the course will be offered online.
Introduction to financial journalism is a certificate course. The cost is R9 000.