Experts want solution journalism integrated into media education in Nigeria

Media practitioners and journalism lecturers have called for the integration of solution journalism knowledge into communication and journalism curriculum in Nigerian tertiary institutions.

They said the new generation of journalists need to be exposed to the concept of solution journalism as part of the ways to achieve developmental changes in the society while also holding power to account.

They also argued that reporting about society’s issues through the solution lens is essential to change the perspectives of media audiences who view the reportage of the mainstream media as one filled with negative stories.

The experts made the call at a one-day workshop for journalism lecturers and educators on Solutions Journalism.

The workshop was organised by I-79 Media Consults under its Campus Solutions project as part of the 2022 LEDE fellowship, supported by the US-based Solutions Journalism Network (SJN), and was held at the Oyo State NUJ secretariat, Ibadan, on Saturday.

The aim of the workshop, according to the organiser, Ifedayo Ogunyemi, was to encourage journalism lecturers and educators to integrate solutions journalism into school courseworks and curriculum for the overall benefit of the students and lecturers.

Facilitators speak

One of the facilitators who is also a lecturer and researcher at the Crescent University, Abeokuta, Jamiu Folarin, in his presentation, stated the need for universities to include solutions journalism into academic courseworks and curriculum.

While sharing experiences from how he is leading the integration of solutions into courseworks in his university, he said the concept is a veritable tool to catch students of journalism very young.

He further called on policymakers including the National Universities Commission (NUC), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) to include solutions journalism in journalism curriculum or as a course for Mass Communication or Communication and Language Art students.

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Speaking during the workshop, Executive Director of the Media Career Development Network (MDCN), Lekan Otufodunrin, urged media practitioners to use the solutions journalism approach to report serious issues affecting the country.

While speaking on “Using Solutions Journalism to Report Salient Issues Without Making Things Worse”, he stated that journalists can also report on solutions to existing problems.

“Advocacy for solutions journalism is not denying the existence of enormous problems to be reported by the media which should be reported,” he said.

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“Solutions Journalism is another approach to media reporting which journalists should adopt. To justify the need for SoJo, it has to be properly done and provide all the necessary perspectives that will make it a solutions report.”

On his part, Ifedayo Ogunyemi, a 2022 LEDE Fellow and Senior Reporter with the Nigerian Tribune, decried the situation whereby the negativity inherent in news reportage is further driving audiences away from media products including news reports and broadcasts programmes.

While further discussing the pillars of solutions journalism –response, evidence, insights and limitations, he called on practitioners and educators to envision a society where journalism also serves as a “guide-dog” and not just as a “watch-dog” in its bid to change the society for the better.

Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Oyo State, Ademola Babalola, also charged educators and practitioners to embrace the concept as a genre of journalism that can be used to drive accountability in the society.

One of the participating lecturers and former Head of the Department of Mass Communication at The Polytechnic, Ibadan, Olusoji Olatunji, pledged to propose the integration of solutions journalism into media education to the school authority.

He said: “It’s a new trend, especially here in Africa. I will make a proposal for the Polytechnic of Ibadan for the introduction.

“I know that by the time we put our curriculum together by liaising with erudite scholars, there should be a paradigm shift from what we have learnt during that (old) time.

“Now, there is a need for us to tell our students that the world is changing and we have to move with the trend of change going on in the world, and this is a new trend. We need to sensitise our students about solutions journalism.”

Some of the participants also called on the mainstream media to create solutions desks to encourage veteran journalists to report solutions-focused stories.

Speaking earlier, the Project Lead of the Campus Project and Reporter with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ). Abimbola Abatta, said the project aims to change narratives of bad reporting about the education system, adding that the project has trained over 30 campus journalists in Nigeria and Ghana.

“As of today, at least 12 whole stories about responses to the challenges facing the education sector and related issues have so far been catalysed under this project and were published on their respective campus press outfit, community, national platforms and as well as on the Campus Solutions section of I-79 Media Consults website which also serves as a database for resources and insights.

“This project also created a network of campus journalists interested in solutions journalism where we shared stories, tips and resources on how to write general and campus-specific SoJo reports,” Ms Abatta said.

Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on 1-covered issues around the globe

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