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Journalism And The Nigerian Society, Challenges, Ethics And The Way Forward – Milliscent Nnwoka

Milliscent Nnwoka

What is the Advantage of Journalism in our Modern day Economy?

Referred to as the invisible force, arm of Government, journalism is as important as having an administration, having a government in a Society, in a Country, in a local government, in a state. Without journalists I think the world would be a none fun place, a lot of things would go on and there wouldn’t be people to report about it. 

Journalism plays a huge role, producing contents, informing people, educating and all these are really important, to shape opinions, making people’s lives better because with the information they can make informed decisions that impacts their lives, their children and the society at large. When questions like What are you doing? What is your government doing for you? What is your local government doing for? What is your State Government doing for you? Journalists in different parts of Nigeria are seeking answers to such questions… Educating, Informing for the betterment of the Society I think that is the key advantage in Nigeria today.

On the other hand if you look at the economic angle it’s slightly different, its about trends, statistics, we are looking at the importance of having a Journalist in today’s economy how they can translate the economic language which sometimes can be tricky if you ask a business journalist, a financial journalist, but they still need to crunch all the numbers in such a way that the public can really understand depending on the pyramid.

Bottom line is they remain a ‘check’ on what government is doing, the policies that are in place so that they can also take informed decisions in the long run.

To become a Great Journalist Do I need to invest financially?

I think I would say Yes & No.

No because, if you’re passionate and you have the Talent you’ve got a job. Some others have natural talents for Journalism, looking for the stories, going out there, chasing the reports, they have people skills, they maintain contacts, they get the Story. It’s similar to people with natural talents to read the news, explain in details the stories, breakdown research data. 

And the Yes is when there are people who have the certification, training which later translates to talent for the work. 

But I would say that one may not exist without the other In a sense. For example, if it’s only the talent you’ve got, without further training you become “stale”. With the certification and lack of interest, lackadaisical attitude to thorough work you’re also “disqualified”.

Most journalists I know didn’t read mass communication but they started off and with that experience have grown in the Journalism industry.

Some people like me started out as Lawyers, and later went into Journalism and decided let’s really get more experience, then certification in the Broadcast Journalism and then I did a Masters in Broadcast Journalism, in the long run if one wants to be a Journalist, wants to branch out in that field you need to arm yourself with all the ammunitions to succeed.

How can Competition affect a Journalist?

Competition is pretty much life, there is competition growing up with your siblings, there is competition amongst your friends, there is competition in Church, there is competition everywhere, so amongst journalists, amongst Media organizations, it’s high too. There is a competition held every year, the NMMA for example and every entry hopes to be picked at the end of the day so life is competition essentially.

Asking about if it is Healthy? And how it affects a Journalist, that would depend on the Journalist. 

I think team work is important, people in different fields should be about the same goals. All aiming for the same goal the same price, and that depends on the individual, the Journalist, most importantly for me I think the Journalist must be able to do the job well, there is a lot of things that could go wrong as a Journalist, gathering stories and informing people, entertaining people, that should be the key thing for every Journalist not necessarily competition, if you are looking at competition and you forget the primary, the basics that your story should be factual, should be fair, should be balanced, you could in the midst of trying to be competitive and forget all those basics. And a journalist should not be associated with ‘fake news’. Journalists should rather be competitive to ensure that the heart of Journalism which is balance, fairness, trust would not depart from them.

How has COVID 19 affected Journalism?

We had the likes of CNN reporters reporting from their homes, they became Digital Journalists all of a sudden for traditional Media, for Television. A lot of people went online, Instagram Lives, Facebook Lives, some people would say that those were the benefits from the covid 19 Pandemic. Also occasions where a lot of the Facebook, Google sort of controlled the news, if you wanted to see what was going on we would perhaps find out from social media, online, a lot of people became Digital Journalists so the virus did a lot of things, another angle is the economic one, a lot of people lost their jobs, a lot of Journalist, it reduced advertising revenue for a lot of traditional media, print and other platforms they all lost to Social Media platforms.

There’s also the Health Crisis with some people contracting Covid 19, Journalists who were out there putting themselves on the line and contracting the disease as well. Dan Foster of blessed memory is a name i would not forget not in my lifetime because he was a companion growing up listening to the radio. The coronavirus caused a huge effect on revenue, the economy, and it also gave room at some point for misinformation like what some people might call fake news and this is because some people felt they could do what Journalists do, felt It was easy to open a portal, go online and start talking without facts, without checking. 

But later Fact checking became a thing, be it on whatsapp, Facebook and others. 

The Media has always been in Nigeria, an Industry that has struggled and when I say struggled I mean in terms of Salaries as at when due, paying Journalists. The same people who have been accused of collecting “brown envelope” since I can remember. 

Covid really affected a lot of people like never before. And it’s like when we think it’s getting better, we’re getting comfortable at keeping the virus at bay, and coming out of it, we are hearing of the second/third wave again, I mean what do you think is going to happen? We are looking at States in the North that are shutting down schools due to spike in cases and we are looking at Journalists who have to go there, report, bring out the Information of what is happening and why, unprecedented times call for unprecedented solutions.

What Challenges do Journalists face? What are the ways forward, Solutions?

The Key Challenge Journalists face is getting paid for what they do. There’s a lot of Journalists who are employed and are not paid and this affects their work, it doesn’t matter what anybody might say, what people might think but this should be solved. Owing journalists for many years shouldn’t happen anywhere. I mean I’ve worked for Media Organizations where I have been owed for over a year and was not paid and its sort of “gone with the wind”, who is going to fight my battle? The labour union the NUJ?? There is a lot that’s going on, and when Journalist are not paid for the work that they do how can you not expect it to affect essentially their duty of giving information. And getting paid based on what they render is another thing so also getting paid among their peers internationally. The company I work for Channels Television has a no bribery, no corruption policy, very strict, a few other Organizations probably have that as well.  But if you’re not paying your Journalist I’m not sure what you’d expect? The Government needs to help with some sort of sustainable fund so that this press freedom can exist and thrive for sustainable development. So that people can do the right jobs, do the right thing because without that people will still distort their information or they will take information based on the information supplied by their paymasters and that is not even what we want

For investigative journalism you need funds, 

for research, scientific or otherwise it costs to do a proper poll. A lot of times the media is blamed for not doing investigative Journalism but are we really looking at the truth, how are we going to do it? A few organizations have correspondents who are in a lot of the cities and these correspondents try their best with the resources that exist to do all of these things but I think Journalism should be beyond that. It should be able to go above and beyond and it can with funding.

Another solution apart from funding is for example In Journalism school I’m taught your audience is very important. So who is your audience? They say we are in a certain age where 60% of young people hardly watch tv, how many others do? How many people are online? How many people are online at a certain time of the day, how long do they usually spend on a video online, depending if they have work, if they’re students all of these are very important factors so if you don’t know your audience, your message is confused and sometimes it is lost so these are some things Journalists need to know as well.

Then there is also public trust, public trust is really key. Covid 19 for example when it started  in February recorded the index case, after a few months the NCDC said that one of the problems that was militating against their messaging and all of that to the hinterlands everywhere across Nigeria was the public mistrust in government of many years. And this can also affect the media organization if your Media organization misinforms Breaking News!! Any news story!! Have you verified? Do you know the stages of verification? There are so many things to do before you put up a story as Breaking News “Oh something has happened in a certain place” who is saying that? Who said it? Has the Authorities confirmed it? So if you have an organization, a print Media saying “Breaking News” The Moon has fallen from the Sky and is now in Victoria Island” how do you verify that is a true News and you put it there and people believe you but it is not true because you haven’t found out from NASA, did the moon really fall from the Sky? You didn’t bring a scientific expert, how did that happen? And why the moon? Which moon? The moon of the whole world why is it in Victoria Island? Okay those in Victoria Island did you see the moon? Where did you see it? Did any reporter go there? So many checks… These are the things you need to do, so if you have a Media Organization, Print Media, radio  it’s a lot of responsibility which without due diligence people lose trust, they lose faith in your organization. And that is one of the unique things about where I work, there is a mechanism for all of the checks, we cover a wide range of the country and abroad as well and this has taken the organization farther into its craft of a trusted source for news and information.

Final Words    

It’s difficult may people think Journalism is a celebrity thing, most people think it’s like acting a Movie but if you notice the great actors and actresses are those with talent and passion for the job and because they have the talent they are passionate, they want to know the job so they acquire the experience and they excel, a lot of people think they can just stumble into it and the next thing they are on air presenting, No! Rudiments of Journalism you have to start as a reporter, at some point I was a transcriber, grow. Even if it’s digital, you have to be multi skilled in today’s journalism world. You cannot just say “all I want to do is read news, nope! Tomorrow you might have to present a program the day after tomorrow you might be told to go on the field, the next day you might be told to produce a show. It’s dynamic, it’s only the Journalist who loves, understands and he/she is passionate that will keep at it, keep evolving, keep being better and keep being happy on the job.

So for anyone listening and you say you want to be a Journalist, you might not sound like me or perhaps sound like Isha Sesay but you might have something else that you can bring to the table, you can be a producer for example, work hard at it. Stay woke. I started working hard at Journalism from my Secondary School  that was when I knew that this is what I wanted to do, so I started reading wide, I started reading newspapers most of my mates in first year, thought “why are you carrying Newspapers and reading it, you’re like my father” But I just had the flair for information and curious about what’s happening in my Country? And that is something that I nurtured. Also strong mentors are a must. Follow them, watch what they do ask for guidance and be humble, sometimes you’ll make mistakes but learn from them. And do not forget the basics of Journalism facts, balance, fair and trust follows without a doubt. 

Milliscent Nnwoka

On building her Career

Milliscent Nnwoka works is an anchor with Channels Television Incorporated in Nigeria, one of West Africa’s biggest media houses. She has anchored many programmes and is armed with more than a decade experience in broadcast journalism spanning from radio to television spear heading engaging conversations on all fronts on issues ranging from family, local to global affairs. Milliscent possesses credible credentials as a journalist with a certificate from the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in Lagos. LLB from the University of Lagos, and a master’s degree in Journalism from the University of The West of England. She passed the Nigerian Bar in 2009 and was inducted into the Chartered Institute of Arbitration ACIARB 2019. She is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association NBA, the NUJ Bristol and member Association of International Broadcasting AIB.  

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