The second edition of the capacity building initiatives for journalists hosted by the British Council in Nigeria was held in Lagos in December 2018. Similar workshops had been held earlier in the year in Abuja and Port Harcourt to enhance the capacity of journalists in this fast-paced digital era. The first workshop was held in Lagos last year.
The capacity building workshop in Lagos built on the knowledge from the first edition on ‘Conflict sensitive reporting’, collaborations in the media space, Equality Diversity and Inclusion in the Nigerian media and Child Protection. In the face of issues around fake news, this year’s edition also had experts discussing Journalism ethics with the theme ‘Upholding journalism ethics in the age of social media – sifting facts from fake news’. Other key issues addressed in this year’s training included ‘the impact of our activities on the environment and the power of storytelling in journalism.
The media’s role in educating, informing, entertaining and influencing public opinion in Nigeria has been more critical in recent times, especially in the wake of the 2019 elections. This follows digital access where everyone and anyone can assume the role of a journalist. The two-day workshop featured thought leaders in the field of journalism, branding and marketing. Speaking to journalists at the workshop, Lauratu Umar Abdulsalam, Communication Specialist and Media Engagement Advisor, Palladium emphasised the importance of ‘Conflict Sensitivity in Journalism’ where she spoke on being ethical, conflict sensitive and avoiding hate speech towards reporting the up-coming elections in the country.
In a session on ‘upholding journalism ethics in the age of social media – sifting facts from fake news’ led by Arukaino Umukoro, CNN/Multichoice African Journalist of the year, where he elucidated that verifying facts before publication in the media is of utmost importance. He focused the team’s attention to its professional ethics despite the digital pace and pressures to simply break a news item. Sharing a few case studies where fake news has led to fatality.
Sharing on some practical tips for collaboration, Mr Adejuwon Soyinka, Editor BBC Pidgin Service prompted the journalists present at the session to leverage collaboration through the exchange of expertise, infrastructure, manpower and finance across their different organisations and internationally. Drawing on his vast experience on collaborating within the media space, he stated that knowledge on a subject matter, compelling story, research and integrity are the key ingredients for collaboration.
Another speaker at the session, Lanre Phillips of Elpee Consulting, a Sales/ Marketing and Brand professional spoke to the journalists on the ‘value of storytelling and branding in reportage’. He used the opportunity to share the best ways of engaging audiences using storytelling and shared global best practices and trends.
Speaking on the role of the British Council in creating opportunities and developing the media, Stephen Forbes, Director of Operations, British Council Nigeria noted the huge role played by the media in Nigeria. He mentioned that “The British Council is the UK’s International Organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities; we are constantly seeking for ways of creating opportunities by providing platforms where knowledge is shared amongst keys stakeholders. This workshop is timely to develop the capacity of journalists around conflict-sensitive reporting and sifting facts from fake news as the election period approaches”.
Also, speaking on the reasons why the training was designed, Edemekong Uyoh, Head of Communications, British Council Nigeria, explained that “Considering the crucial role played by the media in the society, the British Council has found it necessary to develop the capacity of journalists to deliver optimally and professionally in their career. In the last two years, we have trained over 300 journalists in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt and we hope this will enhance the quality of their delivery going forward”.