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Internship Diary: Journalism isn’t easy

Internship Diary: Journalism isn’t easy
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Joseph Olaoluwa, graduate of English and Literary Studies from Obafemi Awolowo University writes on his sojourn to and in The Nation.

With the appropriate experience as a student journalist and veteran campus journalist in the eyes of many, one would think landing an internship with a top newspaper firm would be as easy as lighting a candle with flame. Alas! It is not the same in the real sense of things. For me, it took nine solid months.

I am actually not a communication student like many privileged ones studying the course. In fact, I recently graduated from the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University with a B.A degree in English and Literary Studies. Clap for me.  If you have ever survived the stormy seas of Ife; you will know that life isn’t always fair. And English department can certainly drive you into fear.

Luckily for me, I had someone who was willing to vouch for my abilities in the person of Mr Ademola Adesola. He doesn’t like to be called Former Special Adviser to the Osun state Government on Media Matters,  but he is an alumnus of the Department of English and the Megaphone News Agency where I was fortunate to have learnt my earliest ropes of reporting.

It was one of those days he dropped by to say “Hi” and lambasted us on our medium of “watery news” reportage,  (Oga Ademola, as fondly called was a no nonsense man and exceptional critic of  young journalists for not living up to ideals) that he uttered the golden statement:

“If you are willing to go on internship anywhere in Lagos or Ibadan, you can get my contacts.” 

Mr Ademola went on from there to freely give his email to all that cared to listen and jot down. I was quick to take a snapshot of someone’s jotting with my Android phone that day. I got it from Arike, the pretty and dedicated News Editor of the Megaphone News Agency then; she later went on to be Vice President of the Association of Campus Journalists, of the Obafemi Awolowo University in the next year, succeeding Funmi Olapade and currently works in a radio station at Akure.

That was the beginning of my cold pitch or persuasion strategy to Oga Demola. I sent mails from mid 2015 to 2016. How do you expect me to forget?

Mr Ademola’s excuses for not linking me up during those periods were issues of distance, preference and time. He wanted me to have a full internship experience of three months and didn’t want me to resume in a place only to go back to school after two weeks. OAU’s calendar was very inconsistent with numerous strike actions that would leave you second guessing and completely unable to predict resumption. He also wanted the place to be nearby and so I kept “pitching” for a while.

Finally, he linked up to the Nation. I never ever thought I would get the placement because he just said to me. “Joseph, let’s try the Nation.” But like he said; I just tried the Nation and got picked.

I was subjected to phone interviews by Mr Macaulay and when I finally passed that stage to meet him in person, he was in Jos. So I had to meet the deputy news editor instead.  That day I dressed up and came early.  I had done my research on The Nation Newspapers and was memorising cliché answers to questions like “what is hot on the news today” and “where do you see yourself in 10 years.”

But I was disappointed. First, The Nation has a sort of bureaucracy on security so I had to sit at the reception till I was called, greeting everyone that walked in and out, unknowingly. Afterwards, I didn’t even know the deputy news editor’s name. I was expecting to meet Mr Macaulay but he was on assignment in Jos and the only popular name in my head was Mr Lekan Otufudurin and that was majorly because as the Former General Secretary of Association of Campus Journalists we had invited him for the Campus Editors Summit’ 16 at UNILAG. And I was the one that typed the invitation letter as Gen Sec.

My meeting with Deputy Editor (News), Adeniyi Adesina was rather a short one, as he asked me questions I didn’t expect initially. He just looked at me and asked my name, which I promptly gave and later he said: “You are here because your school is on strike abi?” I responded with a “Yes” and he ushered me to a chair to wait to be attended to. I sat and sat in the newsroom from mid-morning till 4pm when reporters came back to claim their desks. I was more than disappointed at myself where I sat.  Mr Adesina obviously forgot me, he was initially reluctant to take me in the first place because he felt I had no experience and I was ready to prove him to test me. With over three years of campus journalism experience I gathered as General Secretary, Proofreader, a Campus Editor and Poet; I was surprised he never tried me in the newsroom.

I quickly asked to be excused as I decided to find the number one name that kept ringing in my head all along. It was actually Lekan Otufodurin and I was more than eager to meet him. I finally did meet him and after he attended to his visitor, a pretty lady offered me a chair. I guess she was one of the interns but that was the last time I saw her.

Mr Lekan Otufodurin was kind and accommodating. In fact, very accommodating for a well-respected media personality. I was impressed with the way he treated me- the desperate intern. He agreed to grant me an interview in two days’ time and when we met afterwards, he didn’t request to see my archives.

He requested to see what I had written that Thursday. I was shocked to hear that and many times after that meeting, I wonder if I would have even been offered a place if I didn’t write a piece about vehicles stuck on my street in traffic that morning. “Journalism isn’t easy mehn, you gat to be spontaneous.” Word of advice: You never really know the next story that could blow, or could be requested for at any interview, so you have to just keep writing and reporting. For your own good.

Mr Lekan went through the piece and was more than happy to correct my errors. Afterwards he said with a beam in his smile. “Welcome to the Nation.” That was the start of my five months internship and more than eight months of freelance writing for The Nation Online. But my stories weren’t published for the first month, and like every intern, they wanted me to prove my worth with well-balanced pieces.

I could write a diary longer than this on my experiences of over a year and two months working with the Vintage Press Limited but this where I would love to drop the pen for now. More is still to come from me and my colleagues. Watch out!

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