By Zaynab Oyedeji.
An average journalism major attends higher institution (University, Polytechnic, etc) to graduate with good grades and a certificate while a few others, including students in other majors, choose to add being a student journalist to their main goal, reporting campus related stories to gain expertise and experience.
Student-journalists are brave and dedicated individuals who report important stories and produce content that shines light on their community. Their responsibility is to hold their institutions accountable by being a trustworthy news outlet, reporting the truth and changing the way the world views the media.
However, their voices are not heard; and stories written by them often go unnoticed; issues they report about make little or no impact and they are not given opportunities and encouragement to explore beyond measures.
Are Voices of Student Journos Pertinent?
During the LightRay Media Training and Mentoring Programme for Young Journors, in an interview, many journos aired their views and concerns regarding the need to have the voices of student journos heard just as established journos across the media Ecosystem.
Muhammadulfatiu Adepeju, a 300 level mass communication student of the University of Lagos, Akoka, said, “The debate should not be whether the voice of a campus journalist is relevant or not. In ideal societies, student-journalists contribute to the business of news reportage and tell impactful change-engendering stories. So, the voice and stories of student journos are very relevant in the Nigerian media space like other climes. However, we should rather be concerned if student journos have a voice at all.
It is when there is a voice that we can even measure its relevance and depth.”
Phillip Anjorin, a 300 level mass communication student of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA), Ondo, was of the opinion that student-journalists are the future of the mainstream media.
“We need to be exposed early to the Nigerian Media space. Also, giving us the chance to speak will help our personal world (the institution we are reporting from) to be held accountable. This is why some institutions extremely suppress journalism within the campus because they know the Power of the Pen. But, if the student journalist had no space in school, and the main media couldn’t give voice to such student, how will he/she report and exploit the pen power?”
Abdulwasiu Habeebulahi Akinloye, a mass communication of Adekunle Ajasin University also highlights that student-journalists voices are important and they have to start practicing while in school to deepen their field knowledge.
Student-journalists report and write facts because they are trained and guided by the same ethics guiding journalists in the top media spaces: the pursuance of objectivity and truth, and the maintenance of fairness and balance.
Omoare Deborah, a penultimate mass communication student of (AAUA), said, “As stated in the professional Journalists Code of Conduct, we seek the truth and say the truth. That we are student-journalists, doesn’t mean we do not report facts”.
“Yes. As a matter of fact, many of us are good at what we do. Student- journalists in my school are doing well in reporting fact through news reports, features and investigations”. Bashir Turawa, a student of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto opined.
Phillip Anjorin added, “Recently, PTCIJ trained students on media where Fact-Checking was discussed. Africa Check also had an all expense paid virtual training for students across all Nigerian higher institutions on Fact-Checking.
A media platform also invited an award wining Investigative Journalist, Ms Ejiro Umukoro, recently to talk about Fact-Checking. Imagine students don’t report facts, will much emphasis be laid on it like it is now?”
According to MuhammadulFatiu Adepeju, “Among the metrics deciding the worthiness of a story, prominence, magnitude, and consequence are leaders. The first reason I can give will be that campus stories are considered to be inconsequential or trifling until, maybe, a President or a Minister or a prominent company appears in the story.
Because of the little consequence campus stories have outside the campus locale, mainstream editors will shut many campus-related stories out while gatekeeping.” He also observed that there is little or no relationship, an ideal partnership, as it ought to be between many Nigerian Universities and Nigerian media organizations.
“One of the ideologies of the society we find ourselves is that we don’t believe that youths can bring a change to the society, so most people tend to wave aside the potentials of youths in the society.” Omoare Deborah added.
It all begins with you
Vernon Howard once said, “The great solution to all human problems is individual inner transformation”.
Before student-journalists’ voices can be heard and their issues, acted upon, they must be ready to go the extra mile in everything they do. In newsgathering, finding hidden perspectives, breaking down complex issues into usable insights is the approach to making contributions. Do all there is to do to be able to say, ‘Hey! We matter too!’ through how we write, what we right, how often we write and how far we go to amplify what we write.
Muhyideen Kolawole, a student- journalist and an English Language finalist of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, says student journos ,
“Neeed to know the ethics of journalism, how to report, how to write news stories and bring in all the relevant angles in news stories. They need to learn more from media houses for their mistakes to be rectified and become relevant in the media space.”
We need your help
“Our mentors, the journalists we are looking up to should create time for us. Organize trainings, workshops and reward student-journalists that are doing great in the field.” Abdulwasiu Habeebulahi Akinloye opined.
In the words of Phillip, “I guess more mentorship opportunities should be given. I believe this would keep the students on their toes. They haven’t disappointed so far, and they won’t. This would also ensure more attention on Campus related issues. More mentorship opportunities conquer close to 40% of student-journalist media challenge.”
Aisha Animashaun, a 300 level student of mass communication in the University of Lagos, suggested that Student-journalists be included in the media production process.
“There has to be a halt to the way student-journalists are turned to errand boys and girls while interning. They should be given tasks to prepare them ahead. This gives a sense of responsibility to them, to us.”
Muhammadul Fatui opined that our departments of communication should establish partnership with relevant Nigerian media industry as it will offer student journos better opportunities to grow, explore, and contribute as journalism suggests to nation-building.
Student-journalists want their voices to be heard and be regarded as important individuals in the media space but, according to Ms Ejiro Umukoro, “If you (Student journalists) want to be relevant, you have to be making deliberate impact and creating deliberate change by actions you take and how much you amplify issues.”
This Student Journo Stories was supported by LightRay Media Initiative