By Enoch Sithole: 

-Nigerian veteran journalists now have the opportunity to learn new skills that will enable them to work comfortably in the changing media business. 

This is thanks to the Media Innovation Programme that was introduced in May this year by the School of Media and Communication at the Pan-Atlantic University, in Lagos.

Sponsored by telecommunications giant, MTN, the six months programme has attracted 22 candidates from various media houses in Nigeria, who attend weekly seminars every month and will earn a certificate at the end. 

Programme head, Dr Isaac-Ogugua Ezechukwu, told Ajenda that the initiative aims at “fostering greater understanding of Nigeria’s technology sector”. These senior journalists, with several years of experience, are going through the paces that will help them “adapt to changing realities”, said Dr Ezechukwu. It will enable them to achieve career and financial success, he added.

Technology and entrepreneurship are among the subjects being taught as part of the programme. “The whole idea is to leapfrog them into creativity and innovation. The technology class aims to “launch them into the technology space in order to move some of them who might be fixated in the old order.” The veterans are instructed in a way that will make them embrace technology as it “affects the practice of media”, said Dr Ezechukwu.

Issues such as social media and citizen journalism are also addressed in the course. The idea is to “awake their consciousness” to enable them to continue practicing journalism in spite of the new challenges brought about by the two phenomena. Other sessions include business and media ethics, management principles and practices. With regards to teaching them entrepreneurship, Dr Ezechukwu said the idea was to correct a situation where some journalists are unable to earn a living after the end of their media careers. “After working for established media, they don’t know how to sustain themselves in retirement,” argued Dr Ezechukwu. 

Other courses within the programme include media law, policies and regulations, to empower them with knowledge of the legal framework within which the institution of media operates.

As part of the programme, the cohort visited Johannesburg in September and was hosted by the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Centre of the Wits Centre for Journalism. While in Johannesburg, the team visited the Arena Media Holdings headquarters where they witnessed several technologies that are used in media production.

This year’s intake has since graduated and was afforded an audience with the MTN Nigeria board of directors. “The board was so impressed that the course participants had acquired a high level of understanding of the telecommunications technology and how it can work together with the media technology.”  

MTN has provided sponsorship for the programme to run for three years, meaning that it will run for two more years. The sponsorship covers the entire cost of the course, making it free to participants.