Math has never been a strength of mine and neither has economics.
It’s this fact that is a big reason why I am in journalism and not accounting.
However, earlier this month, I attended the Fraser Institute’s Economics for Journalists program in Toronto, a three-day course designed to teach reporters the basics of economics, policy decisions made by governments, the impact those decisions can have and much more.
And I have to say, it was a lot of fun.
Each year the Fraser Institute holds these three-day program sessions in Vancouver and Toronto and only 25 journalists are accepted into either the Toronto or Vancouver session. It’s an all-expenses-paid program that many other journalists in Canada have attended, including some of my colleagues with Black Press.
So for three days, myself, along with 24 other journalists from across Canada learned about opportunity costs, sunk costs, primary and secondary choices, the laws of supply and demand, market clearing price, intended and unintended consequences of economic or policy decisions, property rights and other subjects.
Although the event is hosted and organized by the Fraser Institute, they brought in professors from the United States and Canada to teach the lessons. Some were more hands on – we played games that related to the material we were learning – while other lessons were more reviews of history and policy decisions made by governments.
Although everything was paid for by the Fraser Institute, the professors and organizers were clear that it was up to each individual to do what they want with it.
The most interesting part about the entire program, in my opinion, was the lessons around analyzing provincial or federal budgets. While I was hoping there would be more of a focus on municipal budgets, the tips I learned from this session were very helpful.
My biggest critique of the program was that there was more of a focus on history. While it is important, I felt that our time could have been better spent going over different ways to analyze budgets or other ways to ask questions related to economic data.
Although I learned a lot about economics and policy decisions and was given a different perspective, the most valuable experience, in my opinion, was meeting and interacting with other journalists from across Canada. It’s not often that I get the opportunity to meet and spend a few days with reporters from beyond the shores of Vancouver Island, so being able to spend time with journalists from across the country was incredibly enriching.
During the lessons, we asked questions about the material we learned and it was refreshing to hear other journalists in the room ask questions specific to their regions.
A few of us got together after the eight-hour sessions and hung out in Canada’s largest city together, talking about stories we’ve been covering or the challenges each newsroom is dealing with. Just hearing questions and different ways of thinking from other journalists was just as beneficial as any of the material I learned over three days in Toronto.
At the end of the day, my experience at the Fraser Institute’s program in Toronto was one I will not forget. I learned a lot, made some new friends and as someone who always wants to learn, grow and improve, my time in Toronto was absolutely worthwhile.