JOURNALISTS have been charged to be attuned to the rapidly changing trend in new media and embrace the enormous opportunities it throws up. The Editor, Online and special publications of the Nation newspaper, Mr. Lekan Otufodunrin gave this admonition recently while delivering a paper The News Media: A goldmine of opportunities for young Journalists at the 9th edition of The Nation Campus Life workshop which drew more than 50 campus journalists from tertiary institutions across the country. Held recently in Lagos, the workshop was sponsored by Coca-Cola Nigeria and Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC).
Otufodunrin stressed that the future of Journalism is online; adding that the future is already here with us and it will continue to change the way Journalism is practiced. To this end, “new media use is growing by the day globally and even here in Nigeria, Journalists, whether young or old, need to master the use of new media to be a journalist to be reckoned with in this age.”
Encouraging the participants to migrate to this new trend, the speaker said the availability of new applications and gadgets for practice such as desktop, Laptops, Palm tops, BB etc and sophisticated mobile telephones to communicate with sources and send reports has made things relatively easy.
“Enhanced research work for background and additional information available on search engines and digital storage facilities has never been easier, so also are additional platforms for print and broadcast organizations such as websites and social media channels, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube etc that enhances convergence.”
Throwing more light on how things have changed and why the new writers have to embrace change, the Editor reminded them that News can be reported 24/7 as they unfold. “For any of the traditional organisations, they now think of web first before printing or broadcasting. Pictures, videos and photographs can easily be produced and transmitted.” He added that the new media allows for citizens journalism, crowdsourcing and active involvement of readers, listeners and viewers.
On the opportunities it throws up, he said “everybody can publish or broadcast to a global audience at relatively low cost. You can own your own media platform e.g. websites, blogs, podcast instead of competing for the few jobs available in established organisations. With the global economic downturn, media organisations are closing down and journalists have to take their future in their hands by taking refuge in online publishing and broadcasting.”
“New media job are emerging including online writers, Internet researchers, bloggers, social network staff, website editors and masters. Earn local and foreign currencies for online work either as freelance or full time staff. You can be paid for your reports, photos and videos on various sites. Your websites and blogs can attract adverts depending on the traffic.”
Mrs. Boma Ozobia, President of Commonwealth Lawyers Association and Partner Sterling Partnership who spoke on the legal implications of the New Media reminded the campus Journalists that like everything in life there is a caveat in reporting their news. Referring to the constitution of Nigeria, which guarantees the protection of citizens’ private rights, she enjoined them to discern between an individuals private and public life. She drew a parallel to the Levenson Commission that is investigating the phone hacking scandal involving the News of the World in the United Kingdom.
Also speaking at the event, Mr. Clement Ugorji, Public Affairs and Communications Manager, Coca-Cola Nigeria affirmed that “the workshop helps the students understand the skill of writing, the etiquette of Journalism and of course we also have career counselors who come to speak to them on what it takes to build successful careers because it all starts in the universities, and if these students have what is needed to start a successful career in any field then they can position their minds as to what society needs from them when they leave school.”
He added that “we have done this programme for five years and for us in Coca-Cola, sustainability of every project we do is very important and we make sure that whatever program we do is not a one touch programme and we ensure that it is sustained overtime so the impact can be passed across. Before the students graduate, many of them become successful publishers and it is amazing the level of campus publication we have across Nigeria. Some of them are already media entrepreneurs and of course not all of them go into Journalism when they leave school but the programme gives them an understanding of what career development is all about and having that mindset is very important for them when they leave school.”
Ms. Yomi Onakoya, Communication Manager, NBC earlier educated the students on the franchise of the Coca-Cola system in Nigeria and how it originated. Giving reasons on why NBC decided to engage in youth development, she said “Youths make up 20 per cent of the Nigerian population and by empowering the youths, we build the quality of their future decisions because we believe in the future."