Friday, 10 May 2013

Nigerian Female Journalists: Professionalism amidst limitation

By Deji Oladoye, Abdulhakeem Adeoye

Across the globe, the idea that “it is a man’s world or it is a man thing” is quickly fading out of time. And the significance accords to the common saying that “women are to be seen and not to be heard” is much becoming insignificant, too. Besides, it is apparent now that women voice are increasingly becoming relevant; virtually in all disciplines-especially journalism. This new trend is unfolding faster in this pen profession as more young women are carrying the crest of leadership, professionalism and change maker amidst all odds and hazard.

Some Female Journalists with credit
For seven years, Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye, 28, put her stories in for the prestigious CNN/Multichoice Journalists Awards but she hardly got any nomination-until 2011 that her dream comes through. The present Sunday Editor of the Punch Newspaper took a grand style into the profession with her award winning story.
That year, her investigative story, “LUTH’s Ransome-Kuti Children’s Centre: Cauldron where two babies die weekly” (published May 9, 2010), caught the attention of the judges to emerge the winner in the Health and Medical category. A graduate of Biochemistry from the University of Lagos, Toyosi came up with the award winning story after she was assigned to investigate the poor treatment a colleague of her went through when she took her child to the centre for medical treatment. The investigation took her days. But she came out with a ‘master piece’ that certainly celebrates her.

Toyosi who also had a Post-graduate diploma in Print-Journalism from The Nigeria Institute of Journalism and MA degree in Media and Communcations from Pan-African University, is a recipient of the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence (DAME) and some others.

Amarachi Ubani of Channels TV is one of the leading women in Journalism too.
Over the years, Amarachi has helped develop the station into a more analytical way of showcasing major international stories and discussions in diplomatic circles.

She Joined channels television in 2007, as a reporter/presenter- she has grown to become the station’s foreign affairs correspondent, overseeing the daily international news programme,’The World Today’ and ‘Diplomatic Channel’, which discusses major developments on the foreign scene. Some of her assignments have included covering the historic presidential elections in the U.S. in 2008, the African Union summits and post-election situation in Cote d’Ivoire in early 2011.

Another female journalist is 28-years-old Jennifer Ehidiamen, a native of Edo State, south-west Nigeria. Her experience in international journalism is worth sharing with young girls who are aspiring to become journalists. Jennifer, a tech, savvy young and award winning journalist, has travelled wide enough to explore the journalism profession; even better than some of her opposite gender in the profession. A graduate of print-journalism from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, jennifer works as a senior reporter and media trainer at the Global Press Institute (GPI), a high-impact social venture that uses journalism as a tool to develop local communities, especially in developing countries.

In October 2012, she left Nigeria for Ethiopia to train young girls of 17-25 years on how to use the new media as a tool to develop their communities- a program initiated and sponsored by GPI. Jennifer’s previous experience and international contact were immensely relevant- as they were the needed “stepping stones” that had lifted her to her present status. From 2007 to 2012, she was an avid youth columnist and freelance reporter for the Nation Newspaper, a daily newspaper in Nigeria. She also served as freelance feature editor and a pioneer online editor for both CP-Africa and Ventures Africa respectively.

As part of her experience in international Journalism, jennifer covered and reported the US president, Barack Obama’s meeting with young African leaders at Washington D.C.. She was live at the first Rolex Young laureates Awards that took place in Geneva, Switzerland. And because of the understanding she has acquired from her experience in the new media, she spoke as a guest speaker at the World Press Freedom Day, held in Washington D.C., in 2011.

Jennifer is a recipient of the LEAP Africa Nigerian Youth Leadership Awards, as a youth who is committed to social change and development. These three, among other female journalists across the country who are also doing well have certainly displayed professionalism. They do capture the originality expected of a journalistic piece.

Professionalism amidst limitation
It is of no doubt that female journalists stand better chances of accessing vital and detailed information about news stories or articles. And sometimes, they tend to outshine their opposite gender in competitive performance. Their input in the newsroom although might seems not convincing, but several researches have proven that their vulnerability in the society is not limitation to them discharging their duties professional.

In fact, such limitation is what they seriously contend with so as to create an unquestionable position for themselves in the news room.

For instance, Toyosi was formerly a senior correspondent until she won the CNN/MultiChoice Award and was confirmed the Sunday Editor. That rapid promotion came as a result of her outstanding performance in the newsroom.

The story of the abandoned child by Honourable Abike Dabiri is another good instance of professionalism. Then, as a broadcast journalist at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), and anchor of Newsline, every Sunday, followed up the story thoroughly for more than six years- until the child’s mother eventually showed up.

The indepth at which some of these female journalists reveal stories, events and issues create opportunities for them. Perhaps, anyone could argue that the sexuality hype of the society today, allows the female gender easy passage to detailed information. But it is much realising that there are lengths that sexuality preference (for whatever satisfaction) can reach and would not get any reasonable information. Besides, not all females use what they have to get whatever they need. There are some who place virtue and high esteem on whatever they do.

The hazard of reporting
 And virtually, some female journalists have chosen to remain upright and outstanding in their duties, no matter what circumstance. It will look much scary when some of them reveal the hazard they went through gathering information for their stories. At some point, they are faced with abuses they should be reporting. In fact, there are several reports of this- like the case of a young lady who writes for a popular daily paper. She lives in Lagos, and covers crime stories for the paper.

While she was sourcing for information on a story that involved attempt murder, and was sniffing around the area where the incident happened, she stumbled on some thugs who questioned her passing by. They were quick to discover that she is a journalist and before she could locate any escape route they had already mishandled her belongings, took her ipad and her purse. The thugs beat her up for no reason except that she is a journalist.

Fortunately, she escaped without knowing how she did it. She later narrated her story to her colleagues. But she did not write her story the way she had reported others in the paper. However, she did that story she was investigating, and the story gave her a front page among other competitive stories for that edition.

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