How journalists should maximize training opportunities, programmes

Cover page of report Cover page of Nigeria Media Capacity Development Report

Dayo Emmanuel writes on discussions on media practice in the country at the launch of Nigeria Media Capacity Development Report 2020

Based on the content of the Nigeria Media Capacity Development Report 2020 by Media Career Development Network (MCDN) launched on February 5 Nigerian journalists cannot claim not to have various training opportunities and programmes to participate in.

With the numerous trainings on different areas of coverage by the media of not less than 28 media Non-Governmental Organisations and institutions, last year featured in the report, what is required according to top media professionals at the launch is for journalists to know how to maximize the available opportunities.

“Opportunities have been available, but many complain they can’t find them, but they have now been collated,” Chief Executive Officer/ Executive Director of Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), Mrs Motunrayo Alaka said adding that journalists no longer have an excuse to say they don’t know of available opportunities.

The reviewer of the Report, Dr Yinka Oyegbile, former Deputy Editor of The Nation on Sunday also noted that the publication has harnessed in one place information about trainings and applications, which according to him is a good and useful one because many journalists find it difficult to monitor the what programmes the various NGOs are offering.

“So, what this report has done is to give a kind of a one-stop venue you can easily go to from time to time to look at opportunities that are available,” he said.

Executive Director of the International Centre for Investigative Journalism, Mr. Dayo Aiyetan while commending the MCDN for the report also noted that the significance of the report is not just that available opportunities have been codified, he said it provides in some way, data about journalism practice in the country.

“You can see through and interact with some of the data you find in the report. It will not only help journalists, it will also help us develop curriculum for journalists training.

“It will also help donors so that they are not just funding the same kind of training, they can diversify their funding into different areas. Perhaps what can also happen is we might also be able to cover areas of training that are not being covered,” he said.

The launch of the report which is a compendium of programmes and activities of media Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and support organisations in Nigeria last year was attended by top NGO leaders, media managers, journalists and other stakeholders

In his welcome address at the launch, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the MCDN, Dr. Tola Sunday, said capacity building is very necessary in order to improve skills of media professionals in Nigeria.

“Capacity building is part of a human development strategy that aims at improving our skills for carrying our key functions of solving problems, designing and achieving objective and focusing on building individual’s knowledge,” he said, adding that, “This is very important at narrow or broader sense because If we are not building our capacity, our growth will be stunted.”

Sunday an Associate Professor of Mass Communication at the University of Lagos, congratulated the MCDN for initiating the project and urged journalists to maximize the use of the resources contained in the publication.

Executive Director of MCDN, Mr. Lekan Otufodunrin in his welcome remark explained that the report is meant to provide access to necessary information for journalists at a time when journalism is going through all kind of challenges.

“We need to ensure that people have access to what is available and what we have done is to compile what media NGOs did last year and what they are planning to do next year.

“We have a database of all the media NGOs in Nigeria so that journalists can see what they have done. More importantly, I want to say that we are at a time when the media needs a lot of support and I thank all the NGOs and institutions that are doing a lot to support journalists, ” he said.

Immediate past Chairman of the Lagos Chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Dr. Qasim Akinreti in his goodwill message appreciated the efforts of MCDN, stressing that the organisation has created a lot of opportunities for journalists as against what obtained in the past.

“I appreciate Mr. Otufodunrin and his team for the job and efforts to increase the capacity of journalists. During our time things like these were not available, but along the line, these opportunities are coming up.

“I like to urge young journalists and those who are practising to use this opportunity to develop their career. I like the centre to also monitor the growth of beneficiaries of some of these awards so that we can showcase them at the appropriate time for value addition to the service being rendered by the MCDN,” he said.

Deputy Director, Training, at the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mrs. Ugonma Cokey encouraged young journalists to know that awards and fellowships are not too far away from them.

“I like to encourage young journalists to know that even if these awards and fellowships are next doors, you cannot do business as usual. You must ensure you do quality work because if you are asked to show what you have done, you won’t have enough.

“This is why a lot of people are not applying for fellowships because the work they do is not a good quality work, be focused to do quality work, set a goal for yourself because if you don’t set a goal, you won’t be able to work toward anything. It is people that go the extra mile that win awards,” she said.

Alaka, however, cautioned that attending trainings and winning awards should not be the main goal of journalists.

“As someone who has organised a lot of training, I ask myself when these journalists have the time to settle down to work. The fellowships and trainings are means to an end and not the end in themselves.

She emphasised that journalists should think more of impacting society with their reports.

Executive Director of the International Press Centre (IPC), Mr. Lanre Arogundade also appreciated MCDN for giving visibility to the programmes and activities of IPC and other NGOs.

“IPC has been doing capacity building for close to 20 years in addition to the advocacy we do. Journalists participate in our programs and must know that the funders want to have the impact of the work we are doing.

“Irrespective of the beat you are covering, what we require journalists to do these days is to think of the impact of what your story would have on the society in terms of what change you want to have,” he said.

Responding to comments that journalism standard is falling, Arogundade noted that the problem is that “it is a bit difficult to connect our reporting to actual development and that is why people talk about solution-driven journalism.”

According to him, journalists should do stories to right the wrongs in society and create positive change.

“Your journalism must be socially relevant. Every single workshop is important. Journalism is no longer journalism for its sake,” he stated.

He lamented that media NGOs are frustrated by the responses of journalists to the training programmes.

“The frustration I see when we organise training is that increasingly some journalists have a sense of self-entitlement, even basic rules on phones they don’t adhere. Some would come late, some would take excuses while many are looking for the opportunities to attend these trainings,” he lamented.

Managing Director, Northern Operation of The Nation newspaper, Alhaji Yusuf Alli noted that the media profession is knowledge-based but many journalists today are not as knowledgeable as they should be.

“We are in a job that every minute you must learn. I have been on the field for the past 32 years and I see that the basic problem is that our profession is knowledge-based but the most ignorant people in Nigeria are journalists,” he lamented.

He added that many journalists no longer want to attend training because they think they know all they need to know.

“Why are we having problems in the newsroom? In the past, our leaders used to hide career opportunities from the younger ones. Secondly, most newsrooms now are dumping ground and there is not enough connection between the town and the gown.

“We have colleges of communication, we have so many communication departments in the country but many of the graduates they are giving us now are very poor. There should be synergy between these NGOs and the schools of communication. Some of those who are heading these departments of communication have never practised.

“We have to solve the capacity problems from the source. You are an editor and you turn yourself to a reporter to rewrite stories. Some of these graduates don’t even know what a story is. Some are very afraid to go for assignments. All they are after is the opportunities attached to the job,” Alli said, advising the media NGOs to connect with the newsrooms.

He also mentioned that some of those who attend trainings do not reflect what they learnt in their work.

“Let us recommend journalists to your trainings. Let the trainings be competitive. You are doing very well, we appreciate you; we need more synergy so that we can recommend the right journalists. Courage is lacking in the profession and we need to do a need assessment,” he said.

Oyegbile also lamented the quality of journalists in the newsrooms, stating that the main job of a journalist is to write news.

“For instance, the first job of a journalist is to know how to write news, every other thing is just addition. Writing news may look so simple, but I find most graduates of mass communication these days cannot even write news, but this publication is an opportunity to know the criteria needed for training opportunities.”

Ejiro Mukoro of Mega 89.1FM commended the MCDN for giving journalists a compendium to refer to.

“I commend MCDN for the project, we need a compendium like this because many people don’t even know where to go for this especially for us in the Niger Delta.

“I am particular about the Niger Delta because I believe it is one of the most disfranchised regions in Nigeria where many people do not have opportunities like the west.

“Having this is a gift for me because I’ll be sharing it. There is a gap of being aware, there is a need for need assessment and joining synergy between the media schools and the workplace. I realize that many university graduates don’t even know what they have been taught. We have a situation where our universities are breeding ground for those who are not going to show interest in what they have been taught,” she said.

Former Chairperson, National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Lagos Chapter, Mrs. Sekinat Lawal commended  MCDN on its efforts regarding building capacity of journalists.

“A lot of journalists, most especially the young ones coming in are appreciating what the organisation is doing, we pray the centre will continue to go on in the right direction as it has been doing.

“We know the positive impact the centre has been having on the young journalists and we appreciate Mr. Otufodunrin and his team. We know it is not easy, but giving back to the society like MCDN is doing is a whole lot of work,” she said.

Founder of African Women in the Media, Dr Yemisi Akinbobola who mentioned the various programmes of her organization said the report is about making the best of opportunities.

“One of the important things to us in our conferences is the pitch. Our research has shown that the allocation of resources in the newsroom can often be gendered.

“Male journalists in the newsroom are more favoured towards certain kind of stories and usually these are the stories we get in the awards, so our awards focus on economic empowerment. What we do is that you have the opportunity to pitch stories and you get $2,000 for your stories,” she said.

Another media NGO, PAGED Initiative was also represented at the event.

According to a staff of the organisation,  Amina it is an NGO that focuses on gender parity, gender opportunity and equality. “Journalism is a huge part of our network. It provides a platform for under-reported people in the community, rural and urban poor. We work with journalists to improve their reporting strength.

“A lot of people report on politics and when they have to do human angle stories they centre on men, they don’t feature women, we train journalists on how to take their stories on the human angle aspects even if it is a political story.

“In the past one to two years, we have been working with journalists in different states where we bring them together to work with them on their reporting skills. We are currently funding journalists to be able to get accurate balanced stories. Journalists always have problems with funding, but we work with them to get access to the communities to be able to get international standard stories. If your reporting doesn’t meet the global standard, access to grants would be limited.”

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