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‘Engage authorities or shun journalism’ – Professor tells campus journalists

Prospective members of the Union of Campus Journalists at the University of Ibadan on Tuesday received training in the core and ethics of journalism, with a warning upfront to be ready to hold the authorities to account.

The warning was issued by Jimi Agbaje, professor and former Vice-Chancellor of the university, who added that the choice of a journalist is between engaging the authorities and leaving the practice.

“If you are thinking about all these inconveniences, then check out of journalism. Take up challenges. Engage the authority. And in the end, you will see that that is all that matters,” said Mr Agbaje, speaking as a guest at the training.

The training, which held on Saturday on the university campus, was held to orientate new of the union on the rudiments of campus journalism. It is an annual programme of the Union.

The training was a four-phased session, taken by the quartet of Habeeb Kolade, a former Editor-in-Chief of the Independence Hall; Taiwo Obe, the Director and Founder of The Journalism Clinic, Lagos; Oredola Ibrahim, a former President of the Union of Campus Journalists; and Paul Alasiri, a digital expert with Thirty–two FM.

During his session, Mr Kolade talked expansively about the styles and ways of writing effective news and features stories.

He clarified feature writing to be an “extended form of news writing. Features articles tend to focus on people while news focuses on events.”

He explained that the “first work as journalists is to spread information” and this should be done “in a way that is factual, in a way that you can stand for — even when it is implicating. You need have a mind to construct and not to destroy.”

“To write well,” he added, “first you have to read well, and then get something interesting to write on.”

Also, while speaking on “Excellence in 21st century Journalism: strategies for creating compelling stories”, Mr Obe, also called TO, addressed the need for campus journalists to have curious eyes and mind for good stories.

“Everything is behind the story. That is the work we do as journalists. Journalism is about facts. Our business is to be curious, to wonder but you must do something else: write a story. A story is around you — everywhere.

“That is why you are here…nothing else. You are to provide the relevant information that all the stakeholders in UI can use.

“You must begin to start a conversation. What are you thinking? Convert it to a story,” he advised

Furthermore, Mr Ibrahim and Mr Alasiri took turns respectively to speak on the Ethics of Journalism and Understanding the digital audience in content creation.

In the end, intending inductees of the Union present were advised to prepare for their examination which will be set based on the lessons learned from the sessions on Tuesday.

The examination, tentatively, holds September 22.

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