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My Internship Experience With Platform Times

My four-month-long internship programme with Campus Reporter started in October 2021 and I was attached to Platform Times, an online newspaper based in Ogun State.

Platform Times is an online newspaper with a vision to promote social justice and community development through undiluted reporting and investigations.

Along with other interns in the organisation, I was assigned a supervisor, Sodiq Ojuroungbe, who also doubled as the Editor for the online newspaper. During my time at the paper, he assigned my tasks and duties.

Some of the work I have published so far include an investigative report on how bad roads in Ogun rural communities is hindering the administration of local COVID-19 vaccines to the residents and how residents resort to charcoal and firewood as a substitute for cooking due to the hike in gas prices. Other stories revealed how poor funding and research undermine the production of local COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria and the many challenges of PWDs in getting vaccines amongst others.

One emotional but rewarding story I did during the internship was a report on how elderly women in Ogun are struggling as baggage attendants, carrying a bag of rice as low as N50.  This story took me to four major markets in Abeokuta Ogun State where I interviewed different sources and observed how the women struggled daily trying to earn a living for themselves. 

Interestingly, for the story I was nominated by my editor for the Youths Digest Campus Journalism awards 2021 held in Abuja, which won me the gender equality reporter of the year award.

In November/December, I was placed on the fact-checking desk of the organisation where I learnt how to verify and debunk claims. I was tasked with gathering claims online and on social media.

Although I was exposed to fact-checking before the internship, here I was given the opportunity to research deeply and explore how some of the tools used to verify information have been passed around. I got more familiar with fact-checking tools like Yandex, Google reverse image as well as tin eye, and I was able to debunk some viral claims using some of the verification tools. I completed numerous fact-checks but only a few made it to publication. 

This brings me to one of the key learnings I had from this internship, which is that not all stories or reports must make it to publication. The editorial preference of the organisation determines what it would publish and certain factors are put into consideration to avoid misleading or misinforming the public. Also, I have learnt from my editor that it is not about the number of bylines or stories a journalist puts out that matters, it is the quality and impact that matters.

Also, during the internship, I learnt to associate the right headline with stories, the use of appropriate headlines and how publishing online takes place. I contributed and rendered editorial assistance on other work given to me by my supervisor.

Additionally, I was able to understand how to deal with violent sources. I learnt that even though their views or opinions matter, it is important to know when a source cannot be persuaded further to speak and leave before such a person goes vulgar or abusive, something I encountered on the field.

Another major area this internship exposed me to was how to report issues on People With Disabilities. I assisted in the reporting of a story surrounding a blind girl who was a victim of SGBV. Before then, I had not done any story like this and it was an incredible opportunity as I later did a story on PWDs based on what I had learnt previously.

The internship also exposed me to the art of pitching. I learnt how to pitch correctly, the process involved in pitching and the importance of pitching a unique angle to a story. Working through developing pitches, and getting feedback from my supervisor was a very good learning experience. I was also able to master my interviewing skills, conduct research both desk and on the field. 

Throughout the internship my supervisor, Sodiq Ojuroungbe, never made me feel like I was just an intern. He never hesitated to give constructive criticism, feedback when necessary and mentorship throughout, plus I met an amazing team of great journalists whom I also got to learn from.

This internship has helped me to grow personally and most importantly, career-wise. It has helped me to understand and gain new skills in the field of journalism which I did not know before.

My reporting ability greatly improved and I became more familiar with newsroom house styles, learning that every organisation has its in-house style which differentiates it from others.

Professionally, this internship has helped me improve. I now have a clearer view of what it really means to be ethical as a journalist. Under my supervisor’s guidance, I learnt to do away with biases and sentiments in reports. The internship really opened my eyes to what happens on the field as it is quite different from the classroom teachings. Thus, I can say it has made me a better reporter. So far, it was a great learning experience for me between the many skills I gained and the awesome people at Platform Times, especially my editor/supervisor, who was always ready to help.

I remain grateful to the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) and Campus Reporter for this internship programme and the valuable opportunity to learn and grow. I really appreciate Busola Ajibola, Campus Reporter Coordinator, for selecting me to be a part of this cohort and her encouragement and relentless efforts in getting me placed in a good newsroom to hone my journalistic writing and reporting skills. I am thankful. I am leaving this internship more skilled, well grounded and prepared for the many opportunities and open doors to come.

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