OVER 400 students and faculty members from at least 35 universities and colleges nationwide attended a two-day business-journalism webinar recently conducted by the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines (EJAP), University of Santo Tomas (UST) Journalism program, and the Aboitiz Group.

The webinar covered topics on the importance of business journalism today; macroeconomic reporting; covering capital markets, agriculture and commodities; writing business stories for broadcast; as well as the use of data and statistics.

UST Journalism Program Coordinator Felipe F. Salvosa II delved on economic implications of pandemic-related mobility restrictions and measures. He emphasized  that business and economic news coverage is just as important as the coverage of the pandemic itself, and the government’s response to such.

“We need good business journalists to report on how the government, for instance, is trying or even failing to balance the need to protect the health of citizens, and the need to keep the economy up and running,” Salvosa said in his welcome remarks. “This is why we continue this partnership with the EJAP, for what will hopefully be a regular seminar on economic journalism.”

EJAP president Gerard de la Peña, who is a senior correspondent for TV5,  said conducting the webinar is a way to highlight the importance of industry’s partnership with the academe. By sharing their knowledge with the country’s budding and future journalists, the association is practicing its stewardship role in the practice of journalism in the country.

According to de la Peña, “We want to institutionalize this partnership with the academe and private sector, and make this a yearly event, so that we learn together and grow together as responsible and skilled journalists, especially during challenging times like these, when we deal with issues of fake news, rising prices of consumer goods, elections, and the weakening economy.”

Resource speakers for the two-day event held on September 17 and  18 were veteran and multi-awarded business journalists—including Lourdes M. Fernandez, who is the editor in chief of the BusinessMirror. She also happens to be the country’s first female editorial head of a local English broadsheet.

Fernandez tackled the value of business journalism in society, particularly how key stories of the pandemic are best told through the lens of economic writing.

Other speakers for the first day were Ben Arnold O. De Vera of the Philippine Daily Inquirer who discussed macroeconomy reporting, and Neil Jerome Morales of the Reuters News Agency who talked about covering capital markets.

The second day of the webinar featured a lecture by BusinessMirror reporter Jasper Emmanuel Y. Arcalas on agriculture and commodities. This was followed by a talk by Marwell Dalangin, head of Aboitiz Data Innovation, on the importance of data science and data innovation in journalism, especially during the time of the health crisis and disinformation.

The webinar was capped by a presentation of de la Peña on reporting business stories for TV as a platform.

“We are happy to partner with EJAP and UST for such insightful and rich discussions,” said Maricar Bautista, assistant vice president for media relations at the Aboitiz group. “We are all fortunate to hear and learn first-hand from talented and experienced media personalities, [as well as] respected business reporters.”

Bautista added: “They have imparted valuable learnings, which you can apply if you are to pursue a career in journalism covering the business beat, or simply understanding what these numbers truly mean, and how they can affect our lives.”

Students and faculty members who attended the two-day webinar were from UST, Bulacan State University, Cavite State University, University of San Jose-Recoletos, University of Rizal System, Lyceum of the Philippines University and West Visayas State University.

The event also saw the participation of West Mindanao State University, De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Manila, Emilio Aguinaldo College, Tarlac State University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Negros Oriental State University, Centro Escolar University and Palawan State University, among others.

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