Onome Amuge & Joy Agwunobi
The association of Corporate Affairs Managers of Banks (ACAMB) has called on media owners, particularly those operating in the digital space, to reevaluate and reform their business models to ensure long-term sustainability.
ACAMB made the call at a media parley held at the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) auditorium in Lagos over the weekend.
In his welcome address, Rasheed Bolarinwa,ACAMB President, highlighted the threat posed by bloggers and media outlets that publish adverse news and portray brands in a negative light. He noted that this was one of the biggest challenges faced by brand custodians working with deposit money banks (DMBs) in Nigeria. He called for a more balanced and constructive approach from journalists and media outlets, emphasising the importance of a healthy and positive relationship between the media and the banking sector.
“The rise of online and social media continues to escalate the spread of
negative stories and magnifies customer complaints, further driving negative
sentiments about brands. This disturbing trend has been further affirmed by
KPMG Customer Satisfaction Survey of 2021, he said.
Bolarinwa stated that ACAMB had deemed it necessary to engage in ongoing dialogue with journalists to promote mutual understanding, provide feedback, and clarify expectations from both parties. He stated that this would also allow for the exchange of knowledge and information, and would enable journalists to better understand the implications of negative reporting and fake news, not only for the banking sector, but for the media industry as a whole.
Speaking on the theme ”Reporting the Nigerian Financial Sector in a Dynamic
World: What Role for the Journalist?” Olufemi Awoyemi, the CEO, founder, and chairman of Proshare Nigeria,a financial information and analysis services hub,highlighted the crucial role that journalists play in informing the public and shaping public opinion on banking policies and economic developments. He stated that journalists can serve as a bridge between the banking sector and the general public, by providing objective and balanced reporting on key issues and developments.
Awoyemi also observed that while there has been a marked increase in the use of digital media platforms, there has been a corresponding decrease in the ability to monetise this content. He argued that this is a key challenge facing the media industry, as the shift from traditional to digital media has changed the way that people consume and pay for content.
The banking,investment and financial expert further suggested that corporate and marketing communication professionals in deposit money banks (DMBs) in Nigeria should refocus their efforts on regulatory governance guidelines and leverage their collective influence to deliver on their mandate to manage reputational risk.
Awoyemi stressed the need for journalists to adapt and evolve in response to the rapidly changing landscape of the financial sector as well as the importance of finding new and innovative ways to monetise digital content. He noted that the rise of digital media and the shift towards a more globalized and interconnected world has created new challenges and opportunities for journalists.
The Proshare CEO acknowledged that journalists by nature tend to be skeptical and questioning, but stressed that this should not lead to a predisposition towards negativity or pessimism. He argued that while journalists must be willing to challenge and question the status quo, they must also be fair and balanced in their reporting.
“If the balance of facts suggests that the result of a policy or event is positive, so be it; the journalist is not a hangman but an observer and writer. He or she provides society with
a dynamic journal of unfolding events,” he said.
Awoyemi outlined five key roles that financial journalists can play in a rapidly changing world. First, he stated that journalists must be able to gather information and gain understanding of the financial sector, including the trends, events, and issues that are driving change. Second, journalists must develop context and perspective, and understand the historical and socio-economic factors that are shaping the sector. Third, they must use analytical and numerical tools to interpret data and draw conclusions. Fourth, they must engage with stakeholders in a constructive and transparent manner. Finally, journalists must provide unbiased and fact-based narratives to the public.
He further stated that the financial service sector in Nigeria has been a leader in innovation and has invested heavily in research, strategic planning, and testing of new ideas. He pointed to the development of financial technologies (fintech) as a prime example of this, noting that the sector has been at the forefront of developing and implementing new technologies that are transforming the way people manage their finances. He cited the growth of mobile banking and digital payment platforms as evidence of this innovation, and predicted that the sector would continue to be a driving force of change in the future.
“The Nigerian banking sector is a recognised global leader for its innovation, high level performance, apex infrastructure system and the best in terms of settlement system”, he said.
Awoyemi urged journalists to approach their reporting with the goal of advancing and improving the banking system, rather than criticizing or undermining it. He emphasized that this is not about censoring or controlling the media, but about striking a balance between constructive criticism and positive coverage. He argued that this balanced approach would be more beneficial for the industry and for society as a whole.
One of the outcomes of the event was a commitment from the media community to work more closely with ACAMB to foster a healthy working relationship and promote responsible and balanced reporting.
The media community also committed to collaborate with ACAMB to ensure that the relationship between the media and the banking sector is mutually beneficial.