Presentation on theme: "Roger Jeal 2009 What can journalists do in covering corporate governance issues? Serve our readers/listeners/viewers Represent them when they cannot be."— Presentation transcript:
Roger Jeal 2009 What can journalists do in covering corporate governance issues? Serve our readers/listeners/viewers Represent them when they cannot be present Pay attention for warning signs when they do not Find and tell the truth as far as we can Shine a light in dark places Expose problems/fraud/corruption/ negligence/incompetence/ abuse of power Act as independent watchdogs that bite as well as bark, especially where regulation/legal system are insufficient or imperfect
Roger Jeal 2009 What can journalists do in covering corporate governance issues? Challenge business people, politicians, regulators, and absolutely anyone involved Check comments and claims/Question inconsistencies Report views from all sides, especially those which get little publicity Balance views/Compare and contrast views/comments Explain/Give background/Inform/Educate Analyze (with help from sources)
Roger Jeal 2009 What can journalists do in covering corporate governance issues? For good corporate governance, management should be clear/‘transparent’ about how a company is run and how it is doing, and explain things well. If we perform many of the above ‘roles’, we will help make situations more transparent. Our job is to ask questions and follow up the answers – “follow the rabbits” - you never know where they will lead. Knowledge about corporate governance issues provides another set of questions to ask. It’s in our own interests.
Roger Jeal 2009 What can journalists do in covering corporate governance issues? We should ask everyone for evidence to support their views on these issues and try to balance/contrast differing opinions. Views can genuinely differ. For balance ask a variety of different stakeholders their views on corporate governance questions. Stakeholders represent a wide range of sources for story ideas on corporate governance. Don’t forget institutional investors. Build your knowledge. Think more about the issues around corporate governance and you may get more ideas for stories (and thus for questions) in future…
Roger Jeal 2009 What can journalists do in covering corporate governance issues? Corporate governance is another important area to probe, somewhere else to look for the root of a company’s problems. If corporate governance is reported to be not so good, look more closely and you may notice other things. Company news is not just about reporting results and performance but also what happens within a company to achieve that. It’s not just about strategy but how a company decided on that strategy.
Roger Jeal 2009 What can journalists do in covering corporate governance issues? Highlight where transparency is lacking and privilege exists. Otherwise someone gets an unfair advantage, which is likely to be inefficient. Highlight what differs in your country from internationally accepted good or best practice (and ask why). See what laws/regulations/codes you don’t have in your country that others/neighbours do and ask why not? Interest in corporate governance issues tends to increase when markets fall and companies crash – these are good times to get your audience interested.
Roger Jeal 2009 What can journalists do in covering corporate governance issues? Make your audience familiar with the key issues and why they are important. Highlight the issues rather than the term ‘corporate governance’ – but slip the term into articles more and explain what it involves. Introduce issues in a user-friendly way - through personal finance supplements, human interest stories, rankings of companies. Examples/case studies help explain to your audience. People like reading about people. Humanise corporate governance stories. Explain what they mean for your audience.
Roger Jeal 2009 What can journalists do in covering corporate governance issues? Have a regular section on corporate governance issues so readers know to look there Highlight companies making public share issues as they will often be better at disclosure of information. Show them as examples Produce rankings of companies on how they follow best practice on corporate governance or are the most and least admired companies etc. Submit rankings to companies/seek to open a discussion Ask companies why they don’t follow accepted corporate governance ‘principles’ where others do
Roger Jeal 2009 What can journalists do in covering corporate governance issues? Read footnotes, small print, appendices, assumptions, accounting policies – and see if they have changed What do firms fail to report when they should do so? See what’s changed from a company’s previous annual report etc. What don’t they report or highlight any more? Have they changed focus and, if so, why? Try to find whistleblowers – but beware legal problems Good media reporting enforces disclosure in a “comply or explain” system
Roger Jeal 2009 What can journalists do in covering corporate governance issues? Raising questions at an early stage can warn people of potential problems before the authorities take action Influence governments/regulators to take action Probe to see if companies that say a lot about good corporate governance do what they say and don’t just indulge in a public relations exercise Follow up/monitor any promises of action Make foreign investors, analysts, portfolio managers and active market players partners and contributors
Roger Jeal 2009 What can journalists do in covering corporate governance issues? Check relevant forums and blogs for tipoffs. Subscribe to specialist publications
Roger Jeal 2009 How to get readers to take an interest in corporate governance questions? If they are shareholders, workers, customers, suppliers, financiers concerned about investments, people with pension funds, just about anyone should have an interest in corporate governance! Executive excess. Greed. ‘Fat cats’. Justice for small shareholders. Power struggles Conflict between managers and owners (as well as other stakeholders) Companies are not monoliths. It’s more than a question of a firm battling with the workers, as in old propaganda
Roger Jeal 2009 Our job Who wouldn’t be interested in such stories if told well? “Our work is patchworking – taking small pieces from everywhere to give a chance of a good story.” – Chavdar Parvanov, a journalist from Bulgaria. Which links with our discussion on investigative journalism.