THISDAY Shines at Wole Soyinka Female Leadership Programme

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Chiemelie Ezeobi

Two members of staff of THISDAY Newspapers, Yinka Olatunbosun and Funmi Ogundare recently flew the banner of the flagship high by being recipients of the prestigious Fellows of Female Reporters Leadership Programme (FRLP), the brain child of the renowned Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ).

Last year, the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) had called for entries from female Nigerian professional journalists who have a passion for ethical journalism, are committed to excellent professional media practice, possess great ideas to lead dynamic improvements on the practice and have at least three years experience in the newsroom.

The Female Reporters’ Leadership Fellowship is a programme supported by Free Press Unlimited to empower female journalists with the skills, finesse, support and tools to take bold steps that help position them for the highest leadership positions in their various media houses.

In addition to the overall objectives, the programme also mobilises a network of female journalists, which is oriented on leadership and creating a train-the-trainer team who better appreciate the importance of mainstreaming gender in news. The exposure entails a three-day training, three-month mentorship, two fair-shares and fellowship assignments.

For Ogundare of the education desk, in fulfilment of the fellowship project, she held a seminar on ‘Harnessing New Media Tools for Effective Reporting in the Digital Age’, for female journalists.

Olatunbosun on the other hand, who is of the art desk, had focused on promoting occupational health safety for female journalists. In fulfilment of the course, Olatunbosun had in partnership with Ethnic Heritage Centre, organised a seminar on occupational health and safety seminar, especially targeted at female journalists.

On why she chose to limit this newsroom project to women journalists she said: “I prioritise the women in my organisation because women by tradition are vested with the role of keeping children and the home safe. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of nursing mothers at THISDAY. Many women have to juggle their roles as mothers, wives and substitute mothers with their editorial responsibilities. Sadly, the issue of our collective health and safety had not been a subject for formal conversation like this because a deluge of other issues have eroded our zest for punctuality at the newsroom, team spirit and strategic newsroom projects.
“Our occupational health and safety is a serious concern judging by the rising reported cases of mental health disorders, lifestyle related illnesses and premature deaths. As cliché as it may sound, we are in a profession that is rated as one of the most dangerous in the world.

“In addition, the risks of getting to work safe has become higher with the continuous blockage of all major routes leading to Apapa by articulated truck drivers, turning a once-beautiful town into a nightmare and what the philosopher Thomas Hobbes would call ‘a state of war’ in which life is ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’. In this state of war, nothing is wrong, nothing is unjust.”

On the mentorship that was made available in the programme she said: “ The fellowship has served as an indispensable support system with its assemblage of result-driven mentors who refined us using kind words, sound knowledge of the media industry and professional nudge which manifested in different forms such as surprise phone calls and light-hearted conversations during residency.”