Harnessing New Media Tools for Female Journalists

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By Funmi Ogundare

Journalists drawn from various media houses converged on the Bosch Centre, Universal Learn Direct Academia (ULDA), Mofoluku, Lagos, for a seminar on ‘Harnessing New Media Tools for Effective Reporting in the Digital Age’, for female journalists.

The seminar, a newsroom project was designed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for all fellows of the Female Reporters Leadership Programme (FRLP), an initiative of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism and Free Press Unlimited.

The key highlights of the programme were the enlightenment and understanding of the various opportunities on the use of the internet and how these opportunities can be maximised, the use of practical examples by the speakers and the group discussions that enhanced the sharing of knowledge.

In her remarks, the Convener, Ms Funmi Ogundare said journalism used to be seen as the exclusive preserve of men, because they were able to excel in it as a result of the peculiarity of the African nature, but their female counterparts have been able to break that cycle and are making tremendous impact with the help of the internet.

She noted that the internet has become an encyclopedia of virtually all the information in the world with most of the information gathered free and offers an endless number of niche to social communities where members can gather around a common topic for discussion and interaction using highly accessible and scalable communication techniques.

According to her, “The Internet allows for the interconnectivity of things where everyone and everything is connected for a free flow of information through new media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to break, distribute and discuss the news.

Ogundare who is a Fellow of Female Reporters Leadership Programme (FRLP), Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, said the struggle among journalists to stay ahead in the business has increased the need for heavy deployment of new media technologies which gives them the desired edge over a dynamic and interactive mass messages.

“New media, as we know, is the future of communication; a countless collection of internet-based tools and platforms that increase and enhance information sharing. This new form of media makes the transfer of text, photos, audio, video and information in general increasingly flowing among internet users,” she stressed.

The Associate Editor of THISDAY Newspaper, Mr. Kunle Aderinokun said the topic was apt considering the fact that virtually everything was now done online, adding that even the way people also relate with each other had been digitalised.

He added that female journalists must endeavor to deliver their job real time with the help of the new media platforms just like their male counterpart, adding, “as far as the new media platforms are concerned, the female journalists must deliver their jobs with the same a accuracy as their male colleagues.”

One of the resources person, Mr. Lekan Otufodurin who spoke on the topic, ‘Why do we need to harness New Media’, stressed the need for journalists to incorporate it into what they are doing, such as getting sources of information and networking with organisations.

“New media is not a fad, it is here to stay; people, sources and organisations that matter, are on them. It is a major source of information sharing for people and are making impact.

“As a journalist, you can expand your reach, as many people as possible, should be able to access and read you on your new media platforms. You need to sign up on some of these platforms . You need a Facebook and Twitter accounts and if you are working in the broadcast medium, you must have a YouTube account.”

To maximize cost, he said a reporter should be able to produce text, take videos , get the audios and pictures which are important, adding that in some years to come, they will find themselves out of the newsroom and they may need to survive on their own.

“These days, when you go for an assignments and you intend to interview someone, you need to maximize cost and do everything ranging from text, video, audio and pictures. Why is that importance? For now, some of us work in media houses, some years to come, you may not be working there, you need to work on yourself rather than having to hire people. The survival is how to combine these tools effectively for your own benefit,” he stressed.

Another resource person and a Fellow of the Kiplinger Programme in Public Affairs Journalism/Digital Media of the Ohio State University, US, Ms Kofoworola Belo-Osagie emphasised on how reporters could use different new media platforms to source for information and also seek opportunities.

“You learn a lot from comments people make , as it would give you a more robust view about the story and to know whether the stories are actually true or not. So if you don’t read the comment, you are not doing justice to your story. You need to be very active on your social media platforms so that when international opportunities comes, for instance, they can easily access you.”

Participants at the seminar expressed enthusiasm about it saying apart from the fact that it will enhance their proficiency in the use of new media, it would also impact on their news story writing.

They also believed more funds and education on the use of new media should be given to key management staff especially the editorials, so that the opportunities can flow down to all members.