The Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) on November 30, 2022 trained staff of the Lagos Office of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the current trends and realities in investigative journalism.
Mrs. Motunrayo Alaka, the Executive Director/CEO of WSCIJ, in her opening remarks emphasised that investigative journalism helps to uncover and fight corruption and rot as well as promotes accountability and transparency in governance system.
She stated that most media people do not have a lot of time for reflection, hence the Centre helps the media to reflect and do advocacy through the media, adding that the centre also collaborates with government, private sectors among others in advocacy and execution of projects.
Mrs. Alaka disclosed that the training for NAN Lagos journalists was a multilevel intervention through which the Centre wants to use the media to hold government accountable saying the Centre wants journalists who would professionally beam the search light on governments and make leaders own up to their mandates and responsibilities.
She said: “The importance of Investigative Journalism aims to deliver the benefits of democracy to the most vulnerable in society, strengthen democracy, good governance and social justice across all levels of government.”
“This training is a multilevel intervention that the center wants to use, to use the media to hold government accountable.
“The collaborative media project requires involvement of the government, private sector, people and issues.”
The Centre, she said, has raised the capacity of more than 2,040 journalists and students from over 180 organisations on education, journalism ethics and so on, since it started operations in 2005.
According to her, the strategy is to build the capacity of the staff of 26 media organisations with NAN as the first.
She advised journalists to report on a larger scale, utilise fact-checking classes, create platforms for conversation, enlighten journalists on media freedom and increase the knowledge of the media on its own rights.
She identified challenges of covering local news to include pressure to focus on national issues and knowledge gap with building audience-focused media.
She said other challenges included exposures to risks due to strong grip of politicians at the local, state and Federal levels alongside human and financial resource limitations. Mrs. Alaka however, said NAN had the capacity to rise above all of the challenges.
One of the resource persons, Prof. Abigail Owgezzy-Ndisika of the Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, in her presentation, enumerated several issues that requires investigations to include issues on governance, education, health, environmental, people, infrastructure among others.
Appreciating the efforts of WSCIJ, Mr Ephraim Sheyin, Head, NAN Lagos office (HLO), said the WSCIJ team members were seasoned experts who had the competence to support and drive positive change in investigative journalism.
Ephraim said that the training would further strengthen the efficiency of NAN operations pointing out that competence in investigative journalism was lacking in the sector, with so many fake news on social media further challenging the situation.
He said: “Everyone becomes a journalist once they have a smart phone and it can be misleading if one is not thorough or discerning.”.
He explained that any story coming out from NAN was always factual, authentic and fresh adding that “NAN verifies before publication which makes the agency stand out and be more reliable”.
Mr Deji Badmus, Founder, TV 360, explained the importance of having an investigative desk and the factors needed for turning out in-depth investigative stories.
At the end of the training, Mr Babatunde Abdulfatah, Head of Editorial/Newsroom, NAN Lagos, charged journalists to explore the diverse opportunities in investigative journalism for a better nation.