Feature

Honing journalists skills on better community reportage

The need to train and retrain journalists in their field of work cannot be over emphasized.

That was the reason why two amazons in the persons of Ibiba Don Pedro and Constance Meju, who have shattered the glass ceiling in the media industry and achieved a lot thought it wise to train the younger journalists from the Niger Delta region in order to enhance their works.

Of course, they have seen it all in the media industry, having practiced for more than 30 years each. So, their experience in the media industry cannot be underestimated.

Yet, the mainstream media is presently at loggerheads with the social media in recent times with the social media posing a high threat to the mainstream media; the reason why there should be training and retraining of journalists from time to time. Bearing that in mind, these two women that have been contributing their quota to the development of the society deemed it fit to organize the training to encourage the younger generation of journalists.

Executed on the platform of national point/ Foreward Communications with support from Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism and Mac Arthur foundation, the two-day training, which took place in Port Harcourt brought together about 49 journalists from across the Niger Delta region.

The participants were trained on topics like ethics, media and development, democratizing budgeting process in the states and local government administration, data journalism, gender sensitive reporting, human rights reporting, investigative journalism, among other topics.

In her remarks, Ibiba Don Pedro, the managing director, National Point Newspapers and Foreword Communications Limited, said that investigative journalism was very important in the job of a journalist, stating that it goes beyond news. She maintained that investigative journalism digs up information, data and exposes wrong doings and by so doing, it ensures that there will be redress.

She said: “For instance, somebody’s rights has been abused or somebody who is entrusted with public office loots the funds. It is the duty of the journalist to tackle how that happened and expose it to the public and make sure that if it is a criminal case, justice is served.

And if it is human rights violation for instance, the person gets redress and closure. Encouraging the journalists, she said: “Journalism that creates a kind of journalist, who are comfortable, passionate and forever ready to do their work comes from a buoyant economy. Adding that there was no way you are going to get a journalist that is comfortable and able to enforce the ethics of the profession.

“For instance, you are told not to collect money from people who are at the centre of what you are probing. You shouldn’t do that because you will become biased. It is possible but the only way we can do it is to work and be conscious of these challenges and realities and know that journalists have to be paid if you want to enforce these kind of principles.

“We need to empower ourselves and actually be prepared to do what we can to be a change to this society. We have to empower ourselves and there are resources for journalists all over the world. I want to always encourage other people to stay and if I encourage you to stay, then I have to be part of the process to empower you to enable you not to collect money and these are some of the things we are beginning to do with the sup

port of Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism and Mac Arthur foundation. “What we are facing today is global. The media space is changing and we have to change along with it. You have to work more. You can create a blog or U tube page where you have information that people can pay for”, she advised. Speaking on gender sensitive reporting,

Constance Meju, the Managing Editor of National Point, said gender sensitive reporting was all about portraying issues about both gender fairly. She said: “It’s about portraying issues around both gender fairly because we believe and understand that for the world to move forward, both gender need to work together.

We are talking about it because in Nigeria, there is a serious under representation of women. “We want the media to think women when they write their stories. Many women are qualified to make contributions to development and we want to hear their voices and see their faces because if we don’t hear their voices, you will not know the issues that are troubling them.

And you can’t come out with good policies if you don’t understand what women represent.” Meju continued: “Women are half of the population of this country and they contribute to the economic development of this country. So, our society should take into consideration their needs, anxieties and their expectations.”

Speaking on data journalism, Sunny Dada, stated that data journalism was very important component of journalism practice today, adding that as a journalist, one of the qualities that you should have is to understand the times and the trends. Dada said: “The challenge we have in our society currently is that the reading culture is gradually going down and lot of persons are becoming impatient to stay on longer content.

As a journalist, if you must get people to give attention to your content, you have look for a creative way to quickly send across your message without losing the interest of the reader and “one of the best way to do it is to engage in data journalism” Data journalism, Dada said, makes use of lesser words, yet conveys the messages through data sets that comprises the variables that are very relevant to the subject matter that one wants to communicate.

He stated: “Data journalism will help you to investigate this latent factor. So, you have to investigate the linkages and capture them so that they speak to the subject matter. With that, it gives you a broader understanding of the subject matter is.”

He added that: “Every journalist should be able to understand how the trend is going”, adding that “if you don’t update yourself over time, you discover that you have become redundant in the industry. “Since journalism is evolving from word journalism to data journalism, the journalist should also evolve in terms of knowledge, use of tools”, adding that the average journalist should update himself in the knowledge of use of these tools.

Speaking on ethics, media and development, Amaopusenibo Bobo Brown, one time president of Nigerian institute of Public Relations, disclosed that the first thing is that Nigerian journalist must understand that the global market is competitive and he must organize himself to be competitive in terms of news management. Brown said that breaking news is not the way it used to be again, adding that the Nigerian journalist cannot compete with some foreign media for breaking news.

He said: “We can create our own breaking news by pointing in the direction that has hampered development in our regions and in our nation. We can work together. Nigerian journalists must plan to break the structural impediment of operating alone by planning to work together and collaborating on major stories that can help our people understand the reason for poverty in our country and the reason for lack of development.

He said that journalists can begin to target Nigerian Diaspora communities wherever they are with our stories to track the huge sums of money that have left Nigeria as a result of collaboration between politicians and some of our sons and daughters overseas. “To track projects that were promised, voted for, money provided and yet not done.

The capacity of Nigerian Diaspora communities to invest in economic revival of Nigeria, adding that every year, Nigeria constitutes the highest donor communities of foreign remittance to Africa. “So through collaboration, Nigerian journalists must work to create that because

without    that, the economy will not find efficiency, will not find competitiveness and poverty will remain dominant in our environment.”

 

He said. Styvn Obodoekwe, a human rights activist, teaching on human rights Reporting, stated that human rights journalism is a style of reporting which offers a critical reflection of the experience and needs of victims of human rights violations, adding that it is a journalism that challenges rather than reinforces, impunities.

He said that human rights are significant to all persons, not just those who face repression or mistreatment in society, adding that under human rights treaties, governments have the primary responsibility for protecting and promoting human rights.

Obodoekwe noted that not only the government, but also businesses, civil society, and individuals are responsible for promoting and respecting human rights, adding that governments are obligated to make sure that human rights are protected by both preventing human rights violations and providing effective remedies for those whose rights are violated.

He said journalists have big roles to play in the promotion and protection of human rights, saying that it is believed that beaming journalistic searchlights on human rights issues has the potentials for creating positive impacts on accountable governance and development in the society. “Journalists are therefore encouraged to put on the lens of human rights as they carry out their duties.

Another guest lecturer, Henry Eferegbo, who spoke on dissecting the Niger Delta interventionist agencies in reference to the Nigeria Local Content Development and Monitoring Board’s host communities benefits, said selection of candidates for both trainings and contracts should be only through NOGICJQS platform and shall be verified by the zonal coordination and board projects division of the board.

He said: “For the purpose of direct training intervention, selection of training programmes shall be based on the outcome of the periodic needs assessment anchored by the community content committee and shall be tailored to provide requisite skills that will advance the unique human development needs of the oil and gas industry and host communities among other things.”

 

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