This post is meant to advise or guide young social media enthusiasts on how to go about becoming journalists. It’s obvious that these days young chaps who have access to smart phones and data have become overnight journalists without a clue on how to go about it.
It’s a pleasure to talk about the exciting and impactful journey of becoming a journalist in Nigeria. As young social media enthusiasts interested in journalism, you have already taken the first step towards an incredibly rewarding and influential career. Nigeria, with its rich history and diverse cultural landscape, provides a unique and dynamic environment for aspiring journalists.
Today, I want to share with you some key insights and steps that can help you as you navigate the path to becoming a journalist in this wonderful country.
First and foremost, let me take you through my personal journey of how I stumbled upon journalism. Believe it or not, I did not set out to become a journalist. In fact, I had no clue what journalism entailed. I began my professional life as a teacher, specifically an English Language and Literature teacher in a secondary school.
However, my background in English language studies inadvertently propelled me towards this noble profession. Moreover, I had a deep passion for writing. Ultimately, that is the crux of the matter – having an unwavering passion for the profession.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that you have to study English or journalism to become a journalist. You can pursue this career regardless of your field of study. English, journalism, mass communication, or related courses merely serve as guiding principles towards realizing your dream. I know numerous outstanding journalists in Nigeria who did not pursue any of the aforementioned courses, yet they excelled in their journalistic endeavours.
Take, for instance, the former Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who initially studied accounting but later became an exceptional journalist. Another example is Dr. Mansur Liman, the former Director General of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN, who studied Chemistry up to the Ph.D. level but embarked on a successful career as an international journalist, starting at the BBC in London. Come to think of it, Abdalla Uba Adamu, a professor of science education at Bayero University, Kano, made a career switch to media studies and became a Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, thus becoming the first dual professor in Nigeria! There are countless such examples.
The examples mentioned above demonstrate Farooq Kperogi’s assertion that “anyone can be a journalist even if they didn’t formally study journalism or mass communication.” Kperogi, a Professor of Journalism and Emerging Media at Kennesaw State University in the USA, discussed the definition of a journalist and the nature of journalism in an article titled “What Critics of Rufai Oseni Don’t Know About Journalism,” which was published in the Nigerian Tribune newspaper on November 4, 2023. In the article, he defended Rufai Oseni, a well-known Arise TV anchor who faced criticism for practicing journalism without a background in journalism or mass communication.
So, when I grew tired of teaching and found myself searching for any kind of job, destiny smiled upon me when I was fortunate enough to be employed at Katsina State Television (KTTV). That was where I cut my teeth in journalism. And eventually, I climbed the ladder to become the General Manager of the station, twenty years ago, reaching the pinnacle of my journalistic career. Having achieved that feat, I transitioned into the regulatory aspect of journalism by joining the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) in Abuja. The NBC, a federal government organization, oversees the work of the broadcast media, especially radio and television. There, too, I reached the pinnacle and retired as a Director!
To take you through the steps that can help you as you navigate the path to becoming a journalist, first and foremost, embrace the power of storytelling and the impact it has on shaping public opinion and discourse. Journalism is not just about reporting facts; it’s about capturing the essence of a story, uncovering hidden truths, and giving a voice to those who may not have one. As you develop your skills as a journalist, remember that your mission is to inform, educate, and inspire your audience through the compelling stories you tell. Let your passion for storytelling be the driving force behind your pursuit of a career in journalism.
In Nigeria, as in many other countries, the field of journalism is constantly evolving due to rapid advancements in technology and changes in the media landscape. As aspiring journalists, it’s crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest trends, tools, and platforms that are shaping the industry. Embrace new technologies, social media, and digital storytelling techniques to enhance your journalistic skills and reach a wider audience. The ability to adapt and evolve with the changing media landscape is key to success in the field of journalism.
Furthermore, seek out opportunities to gain practical experience and expand your network within the journalism community. Being on the social media platform is a great start, as it allows you to collaborate with like-minded individuals who share your passion for journalism. Look for internships, volunteer opportunities, and workshops that can provide hands-on experience and mentorship from seasoned journalists. Building strong relationships within the journalism community can open doors to new opportunities and help you gain valuable insights and guidance as you progress in your career.
In addition to honing your skills and building relationships, it’s essential to cultivate a deep understanding of the ethical considerations and responsibilities that come with being a journalist. In a country as diverse as Nigeria, where complex social and political issues abound, it’s crucial for journalists to uphold high ethical standards, maintain objectivity, and strive for accurate and balanced reporting. As aspiring journalists, you have the power to influence public opinion and shape narratives, so use that power responsibly and with integrity.
As you embark on this journey, it’s important to be prepared for the challenges that may come your way. Journalism can be a demanding and often unpredictable career, requiring resilience, determination, and the ability to work under pressure. Embrace each challenge as an opportunity for growth and learning, and always stay true to your passion for storytelling and the pursuit of truth. Remember, adversity can often be the catalyst for your greatest achievements.
Lastly, never underestimate the impact you can have as a journalist in Nigeria. Your work has the potential to spark important conversations, hold those in power accountable, and bring about positive change in your communities and beyond. Whether you choose to focus on investigative reporting, human interest stories, or political journalism, your contribution to the media landscape can make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
In conclusion, the journey to becoming a journalist in Nigeria is a noble and rewarding pursuit. It’s a journey filled with opportunities to learn, grow, and make a positive impact through the stories you tell. Embrace the power of storytelling, stay adaptable and open to change, seek out practical experience and mentorship, uphold high ethical standards, and always remember the tremendous influence you can have as a journalist in Nigeria. I encourage each of you to stay dedicated to your passion for journalism, be relentless in your pursuit of truth, and never lose sight of the incredible impact you can have on the world around you.
I have every confidence that each of you has the potential to become a force for good in the field of journalism, and I eagerly anticipate the inspiring stories you will share with the world.
Thank you for the opportunity to share this moment with you, and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors as budding journalists in Nigeria.
* Malam Ahmed, a former Manager at the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), was also the General Manager, Katsina State Television (KTTV)