The Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has trained over 50 journalists across the country to effectively interpret data and communicate research findings in furtherance of economic and policy issues. The training was organized in two zones, with the southern zone taking place in Dodowa in the Greater Accra region and northern zone, in Tamale.
The sessions took the participants through data literacy with a focus on basic statistical methods and terminologies, and hands-on practical demonstration and exercises on communicating statistics and how to use data to shape economic and strategic policies.
“The training was great. It afforded me the opportunity to master the numbers. As an editor, this will help me to be able to break down statistical stories to the understanding of everyone without losing the meaning. Great opportunity also to refresh some things I knew already”, said Fred Smith, Joy News Editor.
Speaking at the training, Prof. Samuel Kobina Annim, the Government Statistician urged the Journalists to avoid inaccuracies in their reportage.
“Be circumspect in translating statistics and always put statistics in the right context to prevent misuse of data’, emphasized Prof. Annim.
In addition, Francis Bright Mensah, Head of National Accounts at the GSS, cautioned the Journalists on the use of adjectives to describe data and urged them to carefully use words like majority and significant, among others, as these he said can have different meanings in statistical context.
Taking the participants through the session on communicating statistics, Ms. Praise Nutakor, Head of Communications at UNDP Ghana urged the media to reduce the use of statistical terminologies when developing stories with data and emphasized the importance of limiting the use of statistical figures in a story.
“Don’t overburden the audience with too much statistics but always choose meaningful data and an angle for your story to prevent information overload’, Ms. Nutakor advised.
The UNDP Economics Advisor for Ghana and the Gambia, Frederick Mugisha advised the media practitioners on the need to relate stories with relevant policies. He stressed that Journalists should try and define data needs, read more, ask the right questions, invest a little more time in doing stories and connect with the right sources in order to get the right answers.
“Do not just report on findings of statistical reports. Always relate your stories to relevant policies, seek to understand the implications of the data on economic and strategic policies, and hold duty bearers accountable”, stated Dr Mugisha.
The participants expressed satisfaction and thanked UNDP and GSS for the knowledge-packed training.
“I learnt not to fear a lot of statistical figures but rather pick an angle and only focus on developing a story in that area. This way, the story becomes straight forward and will not be loaded with several statistics that can be confusing. I thank UNDP and GSS for the training”, stated Ms Shawana Yussif, Reporter at Filla FM, Tamale.
The participants in both trainings, were drawn from print, online, and broadcast media from the 16 regions of the country.