The Centre for Investigative Journalism
The Centre for Investigative Journalism

#CIJSummer: Understanding Company Accounts

A two-part session aimed at those who want to understand how to dig into financial statements and identify relevant information for investigations.

This course is part of the #CIJSummer Investigative Journalism Conference 2021.

Date: 6 July 2021
Time: 10:00 till 11:30 AND 12:00 till 13:30 (BST London, UK time).
Group size: max 40 people.
Class duration: 1hr 30min x 2 times a day x 1 day
Level of participation: high, with regular Q&A sections

This course will show you how to understand company accounts and get beyond the corporate PR spin. The emphasis will be on teaching practical skills. The objective of the course is to ensure that all participants feel comfortable with a set of accounts and know where and how to look for relevant information.

The only prerequisites for this course are numeracy and an interest in financial matters.

Technical Requirements

This course will need you to have the following software/apps/tools on your computer:

  • Zoom app
  • Camera and audio

This course will be hosted on Zoom. To find out more about how we use Zoom, please check out our Zoom InfoSec page.

6 July 2021 – Session 1: Theory

We will cover basic accounting concepts from a reporter's perspective and what you need to know about financial documents  We will then unpack the financial statements, explaining the format, how they are structured, and which line items and notes you should prioritise.

6 July 2021 – Session 2: Practical

This session will focus on a practical group exercise. It will task participants with finding and inputting key line item data as well as information from the notes off a particular set of accounts. The participants will have about an hour to complete their assignment, with access to expert guidance.  After the exercise is completed, we will sum up the trend analysis and potential newslines that can be gleaned from the accounts.

Nick Mathiason

Nick Mathiason has been a business and finance journalist for 30 years and has broken a sizable number of impactful stories that gained international prominence. Subjects investigated include developing countries access to medicine, vulture funds, labour issues and the growth of private equity.
  • 6 July 2021 10.00–11.30 Time zone: BST (UK Time)
  • 6 July 2021 12.00–13.30 Time zone: BST (UK Time)
Time zone: BST (UK Time)
Location: Zoom meeting

The Investigative Journalist’s Guide to Company Accounts

by Raj Bairoliya

An introduction from the author, Raj Bairoliya A little history is in order. A dozen or so years ago, I was complaining to my friend Michael Gillard about the standard of financial investigative journalism in the UK – it was a matter of serious concern to me as I make my living from investigating wrongdoing.

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