Never Too Early To Choose Career, Media Experts Tell Ghanaian Students

…as Ghanaian journalist unveils Press Club for students

A media consultant and trainer at the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) in Nigeria, Mr. Lekan Otufodunrin has called on senior high school students in Ghana to embrace learning and focus on their career paths.

Otufodunrin gave the advice at the Community Baptist School, Accra during the launch of the Pen Club in the school.

The club, founded by a journalist trained at the WCIJ in Lagos, Nigeria, Josephine Asabea Akonor, is a pet project through which she plans to discover and train talents who would be journalists in future.

Speaking at the event, Chairman of the occasion and Executive Director of the Media Career Development Network, Nigeria, Otufodunrin appreciated Akonor for the hounour to chair the occasion.

“I thank the founder of this initiative for this privilege. I came to this town for another thing entirely, I just alerted her that I was in town because I am involved with her project and I thank her for the honour,” he said.

Otufodunrin, former Online Editor at the Nation newspaper, Nigeria also appreciated the students who turned out in their large numbers to grace the occasion. “If you are not here this event wouldn’t have worth the while,” he added.

Explaining further the initiative, he said, the founder was one of the female journalists trained at the WSCIJ in Lagos where she got the idea to mentor young students.

“One of the reasons she is organising this initiative is because she is a part of an initiative organised by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism in Nigeria. The centre is committed to social justice based on ethics, transparency and accountability though investigative journalism.

“The centre has a project called Female Reporters Leadership Project. It was initially meant for female journalists in Nigeria but we discovered that we cannot limit it to Nigeria and good enough we have people applying from different parts of the world.

“The first year it held we had Theodora from Kumasi, last year we had Josephine.  What that program involves is that it is to empower female journalists to take leadership positions in the media because we have studies that show that the gender imbalance is still a concern then we have to have them empowered to be in that position,” he explained.

Narrating how he became a journalist, Otufodunrin who has practiced journalism for over 30 years said he was inspired when he began reading newspapers as a little child.

“I became a journalist because my father encouraged me. I used to buy newspapers for him and I used to read them. I grew up listening to the radio as well,” he narrated, urging the students to choose their career while in secondary school and study hard.

Founder of the Press Club, Akonor at the event talked about what inspired her to create the club for young students.

“I deem it an extreme honour to see this club come into reality. It is aimed at discovering and shaping community of media fraternity,” she explained.

The journalist added that the Press Club is for senior high school students in Ghana who are close to choosing their career paths. The club according to her is for students with high interest in using the power of the media to make a difference in the society.

“It aims at promoting intellectual and professional writers among students, creating a strong community of writers that will emphasise the practice of journalism and the core mandate of journalistic writing,” she said.

Explaining further, “Press Club Ghana among other things aims at helping students to create interest in journalism or its related areas to improve their English writing skills, teach students how to express themselves in public.

“It also aims at teaching students how to get their opinions and concerns to authority, improve students’ confidence, coach them on professional journalism and get them opportunities to interact with seasoned journalists,” she explained.

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She also realised standards are falling in the media professions due to unethical and unprofessional practices by some who are abusing the power of the media. According to her, it is time to give attention to those coming to take over the profession in future.

She however appreciates the WSCIJ and her mentors who made the job easy for her. “It was a serious journey during the Female Reporters Leadership Training 2019 for female journalists in Nigeria. There were obstacles but with the help of God and my mentors at the centre, madam Nneka, Madam Motunrayo, Madam Bimbo, Mr. Otufodunrin, Mr. Sankore, my boss in Ghana Business Times and the Online Editor, Mr. Kwame Achaeampong.

Addressing the students on what journalism is all about at the event, Achaeampong said he didn’t study journalism in the university but made up his mind after school to venture into the media due to his interest.

“I finished from the university before realising what I wanted to do was journalism.  So you are never too young to start thinking about what you want to do in life. I want to tell you that this Press Club may be your turning point. This is the time to decide.

“Journalism in basic term is about reporting something that is just happening. It is an account of a recent event and a new development,” he explained adding that, “In recent time, journalism is providing information for people to be able to make the right decision.”

He however tasked the students on the need to be responsible at all times. “You should show sign of responsibility, humanity and accountability. You have to be truthful, honest, and show humanity and affection, that is journalism,” he said.

Students took turn to ask questions which were answered by seasoned professionals in attendance.

Award winning female broadcaster Serwaa Amihere was also at the gathering to encourage the students with her story.

Telling the students how she scaled through barriers especially as a female journalist, she said things are now better but they must show interest in whatever career path they chose.

“It was hard in those days but today, things are a lot better. Before now they would tell you as a female you cannot go to cover a crime scene. Sometime you want to interview someone and they want to take advantage of you,” she said.

Continuing she said, “In my case I was determined. I didn’t go to journalism school but I learnt on the job. All the things I know today I learnt them on the job. The passion made me to learn more. I know seasoned journalists I sat with them to learn.”

She however enjoined the students to look for mentors in whatever career they chose to go into. “Look for mentor. If you want to be a journalist, you have to find mentor in journalism and not in entertainment.

Also at the event was the General Secretary of the Ghana Journalism Association (GJA), Mr. Edmund Kofi Yeboah who alto talked to the students before unveiling the Press Club.

Yeboah explained the importance of education and went down memory lane to tell the students how some African founding fathers used the media to fight for independence from colonial rule.

“The likes of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe were journalists. Initially they didn’t go through any journalism school like we have today but they learnt on the job.

“It is not always the certificates which however are also important. You need your formal education so that you can learn the basics,” he said.

Story by Dayo Emmanuel

dayomanuel2@gmail.com

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