WSCIJ Empowers Female Journalists on Leadership Skills

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Funmi Ogundare

For four days, women journalists drawn from the print, broadcast and online medium across Nigeria and Africa, converged on the conference room of Shoregate Hotel, Ikeja GRA, Lagos, for the 2018 Report Women Female Reporters’ Leadership Programme (FRLP) Fellowship, a project of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ).
This was designed to increase the reportage of the issues of access and abuse as they affect girls and women in the country.

The FRLP, supported by Free Press Unlimited (FPL) to empower female journalists with skills that will embolden them to emerge as leaders in their various media organisations was themed, ‘Positioning Female Reporters for Leadership in the Newsroom’.

At the programme, the resource persons took participants in topics on, ‘Fundamentals of Gender Issues’, ‘Newsroom leadership , media framing , agenda setting and why female participation matters’, ‘ The challenge on what female journalists can do differently in their newsroom’, ‘Principles of value-driven leadership’, Security and safety: Nuggets for female reporters’, ‘Leading the stereotypes and managing conflicts’.

Other topics include, ‘Developing an Entrepreneurial spirit’, ‘Delegation and work-life balance’, ‘Building diverse and gender sensitive sources and effective networking with others’, Ethics; the white, the lack and the grey areas. Between telling the story and profit making’, among others.

The Centre Coordinator, WSCIJ, Mrs. Motunrayo Alaka, who emphasised on the gap that exists in the ratio of females to their male counterpart in leadership in the newsroom, noted that the centre had conducted a survey of the leadership status of female reporters in the country in 2017, which revealed a ratio of 2:1 representation inboard and management levels in favor of men.

She said: “There has been little deliberate effort to ensure female reporters get to the highest echelons of leadership in their newsrooms. Thus, the programme is the centre’s decision to change the anomaly.”
She advised participants to have a good grasp of their profession and how it ties up with the larger society, adding that they need to diversify their skills and government involve in things that would add value to their overall portfolio.

The Executive Director of Women Advocate Research and Documentation Centre ((WARDC), Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, stressed the need for participants to audit their beats, find new sources and do more of advocacy to best serve the public as watchdogs and truth tellers.

She said: “As a journalist, you need to ask yourself how your report is reflecting the needs of men and women, who has been consulted? How was the consultation done to facilitate input from men and women from social classes?”
She also emphasised on how they could write a gender-sensitive report that must reflect a wholistic and realistic view of women, adding that this must appear in the full spectrum of activities in which they engage.

Emphasising on the principles of value-driven leadership, the Deputy Director of the Enterprise Development Centre, Pan -Atlantic University, Mrs. Nneka Okekearu, affirmed that the best way a leader can influence is to set an example and define yourself.

She said: “Leading means making an impact. If you want to be an authentic leader, you should have your unique contribution to the welfare of the society. Practice what you preach, and the results will astonish you.”

The former Online Editor of the Nation Newspaper, Mr. Lekan Otufodunrin, also stressed the need for the participants to be willing to take up manor assignments, read widely and network locally and globally.

“Do not take unnecessary excuses during major editorial operations. As a journalist, you should be able to come up with innovative ideas on how to improve editorial process and prove that women are better managers on the editorial assignments you are given,” he said.

A frontline Broadcast Journalist and Multimedia Strategist, Mrs. Eugenia Abu, who highlighted the the importance of public speaking skill, said it should not be taken for granted, as this gives the speaker more confidence and respect from the listeners.

She said: “If you have good public speaking skill, you can deliver what you want to say and people listen. It also open the space to lead on an international platform,” she said, adding that speakers must have a command of what is going on in the project they are handling.
“You must know your onions and understand current affairs, practice and learn from others and also invest in learning.”