Media Career Q&A December 2016
The first edition of online Media Career Q&A session was held on Friday, December 2, 2016 on Twitter and facebook. The session which lasted from 8.00am-7pm was moderated by Lekan Otufodunrin, Journalist and Media Career Development Specialist.
With the use of the hashtag #MediaCareerQ&A, top journalists fielded questions on various aspects of media career and work.
Those who answered questions and contributed to the session were:
- Wale Fatade , Executive Director, Media Support Centre
- Betty Abah, Executive Director, Cee-Hope Nigeria
- Taiwo Obe, Founder/Director The Journalism Clinic
- Eniola Toluwani, Correspondent, The Punch Newspaper
- Steve Aborisade, Coordinator, Projecthope
- Funke Treasure Durodola, General Manager, FRCNâ€™s Radio One 103.5 FM, Lagos
- Terryanne Chebet,Â TV Host | Moderator | Bloomberg ALI Fellow | Entrepreneur, Kenya
- Dayo Aiyetan, Executive Director, International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Abuja
- Seun Akioye, Assistant Editor, The Nation Newspapers
- Yemi Ajayi, Managing Editor, The New Telegraph NewspaperÂ
- Femi Babatunde, Communications Specialist/Technical Executive at Office of Economic Development and Partnerships, State of Osun
- Adediwura Aderibigbe, Chief Creative Strategist at Plush Media NGÂ
- Gilbert Alasa, External Relations and Media Specialist, Wakanow.
The responses provided offered a lot of insights on some of the questions many journalists usually seek answers to. We appreciate all the respondents who found time to share from their experiences and offered practical advice on how to accomplish goals and tasks on the job.
Â 10 TAKE-AWAYS
Here are some of the key responses during the session:
- +Information on foreign Scholarship for media studies are available on websites and social media
- +International fellowship exposed me to a new realm of journalism practice: the professionalism, attention to details, independence and also access to various modern tools of practising the exciting career
- +I update my skills and refuse to be limited by the system, tradition, gender, and the past
- +I will encourage aspiring journalists to read at least three editions of major papers weekly. Join editorial groups on campus and write.
- +The advantage that comes from exposing oneâ€™s work to being benchmarked alongside other works of colleagues elsewhere. This is quite useful for receiving genuine feedbacks or evaluation over oneâ€™s works by a team of external expert assessors
- +Sometime next year, the ICIR is also starting some kind of weekend journalism clinic or boot camp to – provide journalists a platform where they can ask questions or seek mentoring with the work they do.
- +I can relate to a lot of the frustrations in the newsroom, but I know guys who are owed months of salaries but yet go out of their way to do a good report. Where I first worked, I have a big compilation of my stories.
- +Be computer literate. This goes beyond the ability to start up and shut down a computer system and browse the Internet.
- +Journalism has gone through a major transformation since our days. Today’s reporter must be digital savvy to even be able to perform. He must have an uncanny drive for work and rise above aÂ mediocre level.
- +And there are so many opportunities within that space that digital journalists can take advantage of and earn decent money doing so.
What are the options for seeking foreign scholarships for media studies based on your experience?
Fatade who was in Columbia University for his Masters degree in journalism said:
Much easier now than 15 to 20 years ago. ICFJ is a good source. They are on twitter and usually list available ones. Some universities have opportunities for specific regions of the world. One must target these as well. Alums of different programmes are good sources as they are well connected and their schools and programmes always ask for nomination and inputs from them. Nomination or recommendations by an alums puts one leg in the door. Google search is a way of finding out too.
What difference did going for the Alfred Friendly Press Fellowships make in your career ?
The Alfred Friendly Press Fellowship (about six months hands-on training in the USA a decade ago) was THE turning point in my career as a young journalist, and in many respects, as a person. It exposed me to a new realm of journalism practice: the professionalism, attention to details, independence and also access to various modern tools of practising the exciting career. I learn there is absolutely no substitute for cracking HARD WORK! I observed the American reportage of focusing on the ‘smallest people’, amplifying their voices and experiences.
Also, the need to keep applying ourselves, stay in the dynamic flow of things so we remain relevant by reading widely, observing keenly and mixing with the right impacting groups. A privilege of a life-time, it also afforded me a great opportunity for cross-cultural interchange, having to interact and befriend fellow ‘fellows’ from seven other countries (Pakistan, Nepal, Kenya, Cameroon, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cheq Republic) Shah’s Shah, Peter Makori, Franklin Sone Bayen, Audrey Edwards, Petra Breyerova etc most of whom have remained in touch. I have continued to utilise the skills even in my current activism career, giving voice to d voiceless via advocacy journalism.
Asked on Twitter about his thoughts about getting funding for higher studies abroad and websites to monitor @steveaborisade Steve Aborisade says;
- @The interest and quality of work is key. Funders wantÂ value for money. Yet so many opportunities to access for support.Â
- @A good plug in for reporters is the SDGs. They encompass our development priorities. Focus here will attract support.
- @the new pitch is innovative tech, funding opportunities are currently open in this arena. Here is one: www.theengineroom.org
- @am currently on a funded Masterâ€™s program, and the consideration is the impact that was made.
@lotufodunrin The interest and quality of work is key. Funders wants value for money. Yet so many opportunities to access for support.
â€” Steve Aborisade (@Steveaborisade) December 2, 2016
Funke Treasure DurodolaÂ
Masters degree, numerous fellowships and awards, top media posts, What is the secret? @Funke_Treasure Funke Treasure Durodola GM, Radio One was asked on Twitter #MediaCareerQ&A Her response:
- I update my skills and refuse to be limited by the system, tradition, gender, and the past.
- In touch with new trends. Share my knowledge. Push the boundaries. Benchmark my work by global best practices
- I read widely, grow my network in the industry, compete with myself and think outside the box. Passion propels me too.
â€” Funke-Treasure Durod (@Funke_Treasure) December 2, 2016
Taiwo Obe shares a link on why @fisayosoyombo will keep winning awardsÂ https://www.thecable.ng/hurray-army-finally-gives…Â â€¦
I’d say grow your brand, because it opens doors once you’ve moved on from that platform. @lotufodunrin
â€” Terryanne Chebet (@TerryanneChebet) December 2, 2016
What is your advice for aspiring journalists considering that you started writing from campus ?
I developed interest in journalism right from my 100-Level days. I told a cyber cafĂ© attendant I could write and he recommended me to a magazine editor who contracted me to write an article for their magazine. The magazine published my article but didnâ€™t pay me as promised. I expressed displeasure with a friend in my class about this.
The friend became one of the student leaders in our departmentâ€™s studentsâ€™ association. When the departmentâ€™s editorial board was going to be constituted, he contacted me, after remembering I told him I wanted to write. I was interviewed and I was appointed a member of the board.
The editor of the board gave me my first assignmentâ€¦.my first news report. Some cult members renounced their membership of cult groups and my university held a programme for them. I covered the event and wrote a nice report. When the editor saw my report, he was very happy. Instantly, he said I would be his deputy.
I was not satisfied with writing for my department alone. I had always loved to write for a newspaper. I developed interest in reading newspaper columns and miraculously I stumbled upon The Nation newspaper where I saw a call for student reporters. I applied with two of my stories same day. The Editor, late Ngozi Nwozor, published the stories. When I saw my name in print, it was fulfilling. That captures my brief entry into journalism
From my story, the key to entering journalism is developing interest in the profession and preparation. I applied with two stories. The stories were as important as the application. Here is my definition of a good journalist: A good journalist is one that has good stories all the time. If at the point that the opportunity came, and I didnâ€™t know how to write, such an opportunity would have been useless. Donâ€™t dream alone. Prepare for the dream.
First, I will encourage aspiring journalists to read at least three editions of major papers weekly. Join editorial groups on campus and write. These days, there are more opportunities for students to write even for newspapers.
The Nation is an example. Look for interesting stories around and write. In my days, once I was able to establish myself, people called me to write stories they could as well do themselves. I even got to interview the Vice Chancellor, great feat in those days.
This early exposure is a good way to start. At this early stage, donâ€™t be disappointed by the fact that most of the papers which receive stories from students donâ€™t actually pay. Ensure you read edited copies of your stories. This will make you learn from your mistakes.
Second, send in good stories to newspaper editors and develop personal relationships with them. If you do this over time, it becomes easier to hire you when you complete your education.
Three, journalism is not only about who can write. Journalism is more about who can GET the story and GET it told very well. Develop your writing skills by reading widely and writing regularly. Beyond this, develop tactics to get good stories. I will emphasise that one puts 75 per cent effort on how to get the good stories and 25 per cent on how to write or tell the story well. These two determinants (getting good stories and writing/telling them effectively) will determine your success in the profession. So, to start, begin to ask: How do I get good stories? How do I tell/write it effectively? You will find answers if you keep searching
Take away: 1. read at least three editions of major papers weekly. 2. send in good stories to newspaper editors and develop personal relationships with them 3. journalism is not only about who can write. Journalism is more about who can GET the story and GET it told very well
How can journalists better maximise the opportunities your centre and other media NGOs are providing?
As for journalists maximising ICIR opportunities I can think of several. Training: We do a lot of training in Investigative and Data Journalism. Some of the people I have seen on this thread are beneficiaries. There is another training coming up in the New Year focusing on budgets and procurements.
Journalists just have to check for information on our website www.icirnigeria.org. Others like Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, PTCIJ, and Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism also offer quality training in Investigative Journalism and Data Journalism that journalists can benefit from. They just have to check online to know when these opportunities come. Also, the ICIR publishes a lot on fellowships and scholarship opportunities. Again, journalists have to check online. We circulate a lot of resource – journalism manuals and materials, particularly on new areas such as Fact Checking, Solutions Journalism, Trauma Reporting and Restorative reporting that journalists can read. Just from reading these materials, journalists can decide which aspect of our work to focus on and go on to specialise in them.
The ICIR also offers networking and other opportunities to journalists. For example, from time to time, people in our network need journalists in Nigeria to collaborate and work with and “matchmake” them. Sometime next year, the ICIR is also starting some kind of weekend journalism clinic or bootcamp to do exactly what you have started – provide journalists a platform where they can ask questions or seek mentoring with the work they do.
The ICIR, through a grant from Ford Foundation, was able to give small grants to journalists to do investigations. We are hoping to be able to do that in the new year, particularly focusing on journalists in small or remote news organisations. Freelance journalists can also look forward to some capacity building and grant giving opportunities from the ICIR in 2017. But key think is journalists have to check for information online for these and so many other opportunities.
Lekan Otufodunrin :Yes they have to check and act promptly. They must know that grants and other opportunities are not just for everybody, but serious journalists who can articulate their plans. Excellent journalists who can justify be selected
What are the benefits of journalists entering for awards like DAME ?
I must say that media awards surely play important roles in advancing the careers of journalists. Interestingly, only recently, a study was conducted in preparation for the DAMEâ€™s Silver Jubilee. The thrust of the study bothered on knowing how past winners of DAME have fared professionally. This involved painstakingly tracking the career progression of every DAME winner since its inception. The discovery was indeed quite instructive, as it showed that all of them, regardless of their year of induction into the DAME Hall of Fame, have been spurred to greater heights in their careers.
I suppose we could generalise this for other credible awards also, both locally and internationally. Perhaps, the reason for this is largely psychological. And this is my own take: Once the innate desire for recognition, which we all yearn for, is recognised and duly rewarded, it tends to awaken the greatness in us and of course, show us what is possible if only we could put more efforts.
What are the benefits of participating in media awards?
*The advantage that comes from exposing oneâ€™s work to being benchmarked alongside other works of colleagues elsewhere. This is quite useful for receiving genuine feedbacks or evaluation over oneâ€™s works by a team of external expert assessors.
*Additionally, the privilege of enjoying the perks that come with winning awards, such as free travel or training opportunities, financial rewards, networking, etc;
*The enhanced personal and professional branding that comes through such awards, are some of the notable benefits that could from participation in media awards
Olola Seun Akioye
I have lost count of the awards you have won. What makes an award-winning report?
I am much flattered. I cannot claim to be an expert at this but I will offer what I have noticed. The first thing I always say is to always put all you have into a story. Do you have a passion for that particular report or do you see it as another unwarranted “wahala” your editor puts on you?
You need to have the heart to do good report, either you are fighting a cause or bringing a situation to the fore. When I hear of a good story idea, my eyes pop up, I am excited and whether I have been paid salary or my editor is being unreasonable, I go after it and give it my all.
Secondly, go the extra mile. After writing the story ask yourself if you have covered every possible angle. Have you spoken to all the stakeholders, if you have not, please donâ€™t worry about the extra work, go out and get it.
Three, I always say that a journalist is the eye and the ear of the readers. I always try to immerse myself into the story. Reason is how can I report the plight , anguish and challenges of these people if I donâ€™t feel it myself? I put my ‘aging’ body through it all, eat their food, and sleep in their community. When you do all that, what you will write will be different from the usual news analysis. A lot of people write and it will hardly be ignored by awards panel. Finally for now, write a good story, follow up with necessary stakeholder, try to make a change. This story illustrates some of the points here: http://thenationonlineng.net/even-the-rich-envy-us-the…/
I can relate to a lot of the frustrations in the newsroom, but I know guys who are owed months of salaries but yet go out of their way to do a good report. Where I first worked, I have a big compilation of my stories.
AdĂ©diwĂşrĂ AdĂ©rĂbigbĂ© De-Catalyste
Considering how broad Mass Communication is, I would outline skills that are relevant to all Mass Communication graduates regardless of the areas they major in?
- Be computer literate. This goes beyond the ability to start up and shut down a computer system and browse the Internet.
- Own a blog
- Let your social media platforms give an idea of who you are.
- Follow people of like minds online
- Write always even when there is nothing to write
- Make sure you are on Linkedin, join Linkedin groups and other online groups that focus on your field
- Learn the basics of blogging and web management
- Acquire trainings online that could enhance your skills. There are many free online trainings
- Offer to write free for blogs
- Journalism is about what you can practically do not what you have on your certificate.
What kind of skills are required from new reporters these days?
Journalism has gone through a major transformation since our days. Today’s reporter must be digital savvy to even be able to perform. He must have an uncanny drive for work and rise above mediocre level.
In this age of citizen journalism, such a reporter must be able to generate exclusive stories.
Finally, he must be able to multi-task.Â
Lekan : Yes, uncanny drive for work and rise above mediocre level. It’s a battle for the soul of our business and only the best will be good enough
How is work in the corporate sector for a young graduate who used to be a newspaper reporter?
The experience has been great so far. My transition from a regular reporter to corporate communications was seamless because I had previously worked in a PR agency where I did a bit of marketing communications, copy writing and general brand communication.
But a few lessons here are particularly worth sharing. Mainstream media offers more in terms of exposure to a steady stream of opportunities. You can fly with both wings while still on your employer’s payroll. And if you particularly take pleasure in pulling off big stories and scouting for opportunities, media in the corporate scene doesn’t offer that luxury because you basically work in silos. But my experience has been an exception.
I have been exposed to so much within a very short time, especially in the area of digital media working with Google on campaign, deepening my understanding of Content Marketing, SEO, SEM, Big Data, Digital Storytelling and so on. And there are so many opportunities within that space that digital journalists can take advantage of and earn decent money doing so.
Lekan: ‘m not surprised by what you have accomplished within a short time. The signs of being a complete communicator were there when you wrote for The Nation as student. I note your point: mainstream media offers more in terms of exposure to a steady stream of opportunities.