Chairman of the Center for Media and Economic Studies to the Yemen Times:”Business and economic journalism is needed to protect consumers’ rights” [Archives:2009/1225/Business & Economy]

January 15 2009

By: Ali Saeed
Mostafa Nassr, 31, is an economic journalist from Taiz. After having worked in the field for over eight years, he decided to establish the Center for Media and Economic Studies in August 2008 to fill a void in Yemeni media. Ali Saeed interviewed Nassr about his center.

Why economic journalism?

“Although [economic journalism] is very important, it is not available in Yemen. I used to work for the Al-Sahwa newspaper in 2000 as an economic editor and I felt that there is an urgent need for economic and business journalists. There is scarcity of economic journalists so I decided to specialize in this field. My colleagues encouraged me to fill the gap [with a] center that would provide interested journalists with training or technical support to continue their reporting. The center provides training courses in economic and business news coverage and macro and micro economy.

“Economic reporters do not necessarily have to know everything in the economy like experts, but they do have to learn the fundamentals to convey what he or she is reporting on to readers in simple language. The economic reporter does have to acquire the relevant skills such as the analysis indicators, data and budgets, something that many business reporters in Yemen do not do.

The center

“The center was established in August last year. The main objective in its establishment was to provide a professional reference for the economic media in Yemen. We are working to create professional economic and business journalism in Yemen, and aim to launch awareness campaigns -through the media for example- on economic issues.

“Political issues in the media occupy most of the coverage, but economic issues have not yet found their right place.

“Nowadays, the consumer is attacked by high prices, smuggled low-quality goods and other issues. By exposing the latter in the media in a professional way, we can help the consumers to obtain their rights. Business and economic journalism is needed to protect consumers' rights.

“Ibrahim Al-Ashmawei who is the economic reporter for Al-Hayat in Yemen, Ali Al-Bashairy, economic editor of the economic supplement of Al-Thawra and Fuad Al-Qadhi, in charge of economic news for Al-Siyassiya, are among the consultants of the center who provide input to the journalists who need support.

“The center also carries out regular economic studies on Yemen. We conducted [a study] on the onion industry in Yemen and how it is mismanaged, and [organized] a symposium on money laundering as well as training courses on the fundamentals of economic journalism. We intend to hold a training course for economic reporters on using the internet.

“Our latest studies will be on exports from the area of Abs in the governorate of Hajjah and the agricultural industry there.

Access to information

“As an economic reporter, the biggest challenge is finding access to information. In Yemen, information is still withheld. Governmental bodies deal with simple information as secrets or national security issues.

“The private sector is not very cooperative either in giving access to information. Traders and businessmen do not want to reveal their budgets, profits or even economic policies, even for academic studies under a non-disclosure agreement. They fear that if the real numbers are revealed, they will have to pay more taxes.”