Journalism can impact the course of world history in a myriad of ways. And here in Lagos, I am meeting dozens of journalists who are committed to changing the course of their nation – for the better.
In the past week, as part of our Find Your Edge Leadership and Communication program, I have had the privilege of conducting journalist training sessions at The Nation, the number two newspaper in all of Nigeria, and at TVC News, the first 24-hour news network covering the continent and emphasizes its news-gathering distinction with the tag-line, “Through African Eyes.”
My hands-on training takes real stories in the headlines and calls on journalists to completely re-think them. We analyze sourcing methods and verification. We examine how to report from breaking news scenes. We consider ways to add context and perspective. We drill on honing writing skills to become precise and powerful.
Overall, the standard of journalism I have seen so far, has a way to go. Many print articles I read meander and don’t ask officials the obvious follow-up questions. I’ve watched lack-luster reporters and anchors who appear only blandly interested in the stories they are covering.
But these groups I have worked with are different. They are eager to sharpen their skills and push themselves and frankly, in this environment, assume the possible risks.
Like Evelyn, one reporter I worked with – who has been doggedly uncovering injustices for years – which have now evoked enough awareness and outcry that she tells me some officials want to meet with her to talk about ways to craft policy change.
And Mark, the radio broadcaster who shared with me at the end of our session how he is now inspired to not only read the news, but to consider the hopes, dreams and fears of his listeners and to seek ways to provide context around stories to help them better understand ramifications.
Journalism isn’t a career you enter thinking you’re going to make a lot of money. Our wealth comes from telling real stories that make a difference.
In every society it’s the same. For journalists to build credibility and deliver value, they have to learn to be watchdogs, not lapdogs.
The people I have met appear earnest and eager. They are authorities in their business; the people who can influence others to join the cause. To become leaders, not just writers and readers.
Reporting live from Lagos, Nigeria. I’m Gina London. Now back to you.
Copyright 2014 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.