New guidebook helps business journalists create better stories on corporate governance

By Daniel Guerra

A newly released new guidebook shows reporters how to better cover the business world and ways to spot trends in companies’ financial activities that could lead to more impactful stories.

Written by the International Center for Journalists and the International Finance Corporation’s Global Corporate Governance Forum, the guidebook “Who’s Running the Company: A Guide to Reporting on Corporate Governance” looks at how reporters can look beyond the financial statements and organizational charts of a company and seek meaningful stories on how companies operate.

An objective of the guidebook is to help business journalists “pay attention to companies’ leadership and ask whether directors and management are making the right decisions, and how their actions connect to their company duties.”

“Corporate governance is at the heart of what goes right and wrong in business. Understanding it is vital for good business journalism,” said John Plender, contributing editor for the Financial Times and member of the Global Corporate Governance Forum.

Among the tips provided for business journalists are how to better define corporate governance, maximize contacts at a company’s stakeholders meeting, and identify potential irregularities in a company’s paperwork.

The guidebook also provides insight into state- and family-owned enterprises, the compositions of companies’ board of directors and its relationship with its stakeholders, and how to better write stories on financial events and make them more accessible to readers.

Reporting on business and financial affairs has become increasingly important since the worldwide economic recession hit in 2008. Dean Starkman, editor of “The Best of Business Writing 2012”, explains the importance of business journalism in the book’s introduction, saying “the crash and ongoing crisis remind us that, in a democracy, it’s not enough to understand only political events and actors, but economic and financial ones as well.”

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.