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Dispatch From Washington DC: Journalism or Overnight Blogging

Dispatch From Washington DC: Journalism or Overnight Blogging
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Publisher of SimeonAteba.com, Simeon Ateba writes on the difference between being a professional journalist and an ‘overnight’ blogger.

 

On  July 10, I was at the Harry S Truman Building  in Washington, the boisterous American capital for an aviation event.

That building is where the United States Department of State, also known as the State Department, is located, a few blocks away from the White House in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

As a journalist, I was told I needed to wear my badge and be escorted while inside the heavily secured building.

This is understandable. The Department advises the President and leads the country in foreign policy issues.  It also operates the diplomatic missions of the United States abroad and is responsible for implementing the foreign policy of the United States and U.S. diplomacy efforts.

Inside the building, I and other journalists were escorted into the conference hall where officials and aviation experts from the United States and the European Union as well as academics were meeting to celebrate a successful partnership.

For the United States, it was a double celebration – the 25th anniversary of the first U.S. Open Skies agreement with the Netherlands in 1992, and the 10th anniversary of the U.S. – European Union Open Skies Agreement in 2007.

For the European Commission, the gathering provided nations from the old world the opportunity to celebrate two big successes – the 10 year U.S.-EU agreement, and the 25 years of EU aviation internal market.

Open Skies agreements are bilateral air services agreements the U.S. Government negotiates with other countries to provide rights for airlines to offer international passengers and cargo services.

Those agreements are pro-consumer, pro-competition, and pro-growth. They include reciprocal obligations to eliminate government interference in commercial airline decisions about routes, capacity and pricing.

Many experts from the International Air Transport Association (AITA), the European Commission on aviation, Department of Transportation and so on addressed us.

I was confortable because in Nigeria, I had covered aviation for years and attended many training sessions at the Nigerian School of Aviation in Zaria for several years.

And when they were mentioning ICAO, the FDA, IATA, traffic, BASA, Open Skies Agreements, and carriers, manufacturers, I was very well at home. And I began to realise that to be a thorough journalist and be respected around the world, you will need to do your homework very well.

A few days earlier, I was attending another event also in Washington DC organised by AEI. Some academics had invited the minister of education of Liberia to discuss his country’s experience with public private partnerships in education, what is called a “charter school” model.

As a good politician who wanted to remain in office, he started by reeling out the achievements of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first democratically elected female President in Africa who came into office in 2005.

But, he quickly moved to talk about education and what the rest of the world can learn from the Liberian experience. I was comfortable, because in 2015, I attended a long exhausting training on low cost education organised by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism. In fact, I ran away from the training before the last day, only to be arrested in Cameroon and accused of being a spy for Boko Haram while doing an investigative report on Nigerian refugees there.

I had also been following the Federal Government feeding programmes for pupils and have been reporting on it. So when the time for questions and answers came, I had the perfect question to know how they were keeping children in school with empty stomachs. The man then pleaded for more help from the international community.

A few days ago, I learnt how to embed documents on my WordPress site. And when the State Department sent the presentations with charts and graphs by various speakers, I was glad to include them into my article. (see article https://www. simonateba.com/2017/07/12/u-s- eu-officials-meet-washington- celebrate-open-skies-policy- changed-world/)

These two or three examples show that journalism goes beyond screaming headlines of who is dying and who is living. Behind the scene, to be a respected journalist, and not just an overnight blogger, you will need to acquire skills, undergo training and learn the ropes of real journalism. Once you do, you can compete anywhere in the world, even here in the capital of the world!

SIMON ATEBA is the Publisher of SIMONATEBA.COM and MEDIUM.COM/@SIMONATEBA. He operates from Washington DC and can be reached on ateba@simonateba.com Twitter: @simonateba

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