Catching Them Young

12 Dec 2012

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Funmi Ogundare reviews the training workshop for student writers, which was organised by The Nation Newspaper and Coca Cola

Journalism students drawn from various institutions across the country, recently converged on the Citilodge Hotel, Lekki, for the 2012 Campus Life Student Writers Workshop. The event was an annual workshop organized by The Nation newspaper targeted at improving journalism in the country.  This year, in partnership with Coca Cola Nigeria Limited, and with the theme, “The Role of the Media in National Rebirth”, young journalists and student writers honed their skills in a different way.

Campus Life, which is a weekly pullout in The Nations newspaper, was conceived in 2008 by a late journalist with The Nation and a graduate of History and International Relations, University of Lagos, Akoka, Mrs. Ngozi Agbo, who died in June this year.

Now in its 10th year, the workshop, among other things, has the objective of empowering the youths on how to improve on their journalistic skills, develop new ideas, and make changes within their environment that would propel them globally.

In his remarks, the Editor, Online of The Nation, Mr. Lekan Otufodunrin enjoined them to compliment the ideas they already have by working on facts and looking at them from a different perspective.

According to him, “When you come to a workshop like this, you will hear what you already know, but what have you done with what you know? It is an opportunity for you to be able to do something. We need graduates who will come out with new ideas. As you prepare for the global reality, you must come with a change of mind.”

The Coordinator of Campus Life, Mr. Agbo Agbo, who is also the husband of the originator of the column in The Nation expressed regret over the monumental corruption in the country, while enjoining the participants to work hard towards impacting the country positively. “You have to be morally upright, stand for the truth and justice, develop a vision to impact the nation and touch lives.”

He advised them to churn materialism, but rather concentrate on performing well in their duties. “You can start an NGO to teach people about how to read and write. You can start by building relationships, collaborate to impact humanity and don’t allow the sky to be your limit,” he said.

An author, Mr. Joe Agbro said he is inspired when he reads their stories every week, stressing the need for them to always keep an open mind wherever they find themselves.

The author of ‘Served’, a book which talks about the mandatory one year national service every youth in Nigeria is supposed to observe, recalled the activities that defined his youth service in Ebonyi State, saying that life could be very interesting in camp if one is prepared to make a difference.

Public Affairs and Communication Officer of Coca-Cola, Mr. Emeka Mba said since the media sets agenda and are seen as opinion molders of the society, it is imperative for them to bring to the fore issues that will contribute to nation building.

Editor of The Guardian, Mr. Martins Oloja, advised them to continually read books of English grammar, especially the ones written by the native speakers and broaden their outlook and perspectives about governance issues and development paradigm changers if they want to make an impact in the field of Journalism or writing for the mass media.

According to him, “You should buy academic journals and books to read about Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. From your improved perspectives on these emerging markets and destinations of FDIs in international business now in global context, you will know why you should take advantage of the new opportunity we have in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2011, to investigate why the most populated black nation in the world is being described as a failing state.”

Oloja, who was a guest speaker at the workshop, said since the forces of globalisation posed more threat to journalism than the forces of the insurgents, it is imperative for them to make themselves relevant   in 21st century when digital journalism has almost taken over from the traditional media.

“As a result of our low internet penetration, social media networks have not destroyed the power of accountability or investigative journalism. We (journalists) enjoy writing columns and opinions than thorough investigations to the extent that if you attempt to do something extra-ordinary, some state and non-state actors can even impute motives and blame enemies that are believed to be sponsoring us (reporters).  But without the social media, now we will be absolutely irrelevant,” he added.

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