A Reporter’s London Experience

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Ten Nigerian financial journalists recently spent five days at the business capital of Europe, London. Nume Ekeghe who was part of the trip, reports about her experience

This year, after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, thousands of Londoners petitioned the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to allow the UK rejoin the EU. Their argument was simple: London is an international city and it must remain at the heart of Europe. This is a truism. So, when I got a letter from my editor nominating me for a financial journalism training at the Associated Press, London, a trip to be sponsored by First Bank of Nigeria (FBN), I knew it was going to be a pleasant experience.

As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), FBN regularly trains Nigerian journalists, with the aim of building their capacity and skills, so they can improve their contribution to the country’s economic growth and development. The London trip was the fourth in the series of trainings the bank has put together, and it brought together nine other journalists from both the print and electronic media together. The objective was simple: we were to learn the modern techniques of reporting financial matters for the future of Nigeria in the internet age.

Addressing the delegation, Babatunde Lasaki, Head, Corporate Communications, First Bank Nigeria Limited, said “the bank’s sponsorship is in keeping faith with First Bank of Nigeria’s quest to support knowledge-based journalism among Nigerian practitioners.”
He urged participants to take advantage of the unique training to equip themselves in order to boost their reportage skills that would in turn help to boost the socio-economic development of Nigeria and the world in general.

For all of us (10 journalists), the invitation process started the same way: we got a letter from our editors nominating us for the training, then we received a letter from the sponsor and a letter from Press Association. With these letters, I gathered all the necessary documents needed to apply for a UK visa and was declined on the first trial. However, on the second trial, I was granted a UK visa.

With that at hand, we all converged at FBN’s Corporate Head Office to receive our tickets and itinerary and then off we went.

The training programme, which was scheduled to take place at the Press Association Building in Central London, would focus on macroeconomic analysis, trends in financial journalism, social media, data journalism, CSR and culture.

On the day of departure, all went smoothly. On arrival, Lasaki was waiting at the airport to receive us. We were treated to a late, sumptuous dinner and lodged in a hotel in central London, some minutes’ drive from Press Association training school.

On the first day of training, we were chauffeured to the training centre. The programme, bespoke for financial journalists, gave all the participants a broad and in-depth understanding on how to report using various tools. The sessions were always interactive and the course leader, Mr. Neil Fitzgerald is a renowned business journalist with over 30 years experience.

We extensively discussed on the trends in business journalism, what readers want from business pages especially with info-graphics and getting stories from figures. We were also taught how to create graphs and easy info-graphics.

A copy of the latest Independent Press Standards Organisation’s ‘The Editors Code of Practice’ was given to all participants and a well-rounded discussion was centered on it.

Another eye opening lecture was delivered by the Social Media editor at Press Association UK, Mr. Steve Jones. We were taught on how to use social media tools for spotting trends and events before they become stories and on how to engage readers through social media.

There was also time to visit the London Stock Exchange (LSE). I have been to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and know a lot about the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), but the LSE struck me differently.

The LSE is the third largest stock exchange in the world. As of August 2016, the Exchange had a market capitalisation of US$6.6 trillion. We all expected a crowed and rowdy trading atmosphere. However, it was extremely calm, like a regular office with clerks in front of computers. In their words, “trading is all online and digital, what you see on television are all acting.”
We were ushered into a conference room where we were educated on the status of their market, the various services they offer and some insights on the eight Nigerian companies listed on the LSE.

But the highlight of the trip, for me, was our visit to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). For someone who has always wanted to be a journalist, it was a humbling experience. Once inside, we were shown around and, yes, we saw the famous BBC newsroom. Right in front us we could see BBC broadcast live. It was an amazing sight. There were different studios for different shows.

We were also taken to the studio floor where they record BBC Africa and BBC Hausa. We were surprised to learn that there were over 40 Nigerians working at the BBC and the head of BBC Hausa is a Nigerian.

But our London visit was all not work related. At the end, we were taken to watch a Disney stage play, ‘The Lion King.’ The stage, custom, live music with an orchestra, was all breathtaking. Later that night we were treated to African cuisine, after eating oyibo food for the past four days. We were all happy, especially knowing it was as-much-as-you-can-eat. It was a time to let loose and reminisce on the journey, the training and how it would impact on our reporting.