Two African Journalists Report On Christian Journalists Fellowship

By Own Correspondent – Kayode Oduboni and Dayo Emmanuel report on the August fellowship of Journalists for Christ in Lagos, Nigeria

Not many people will turn down an offer to stay back in Untied States of America for six months even after one year’s stay. Jennifer Ehidiamen did and was at the August fellowship of Journalists for Christ in Lagos to share his experience during her participation in the Atlas Corps fellowship programme.

“Though the US is a place where you can make many things happen, Life is not about places but about purpose” Ehidiamen, a columnist with The Nation newspaper and youth advocate noted.

She was one of the four speakers who recently returned from various programmes in US who shared their experiences at last month’s meeting of Christian journalists held on August 21 at the International Press Centre, Lagos.

Others were Yinka Oyebode and Biodun Thomas- Davis, both of The Nation who were named Belz International Media Fellow by the World Journalism Institute, Washington and attended the 2010 National Black Journalists Conference in San Diego.

Taiwo Adewole, one the three Nigerian youths who recently met with President Barack Obama along with other youths from Africa was also at the JFC fellowship aptly dubbed the “American edition” by the group’s President, Lekan Otufodunrin.

Ehidiamen said she learnt many new things during the fellowship and had had to shed off some things she knew before to accommodate new ones.

She stressed the need for journalists to learn to specialize in a particular area of coverage and master the various new technologies to remain relevant in the profession.

“It was a real eye-opening experience for me on the potentials in the profession and I do my best to utilize the skills I have learnt to promote issues I am very passionate about” Ehidiamen, a graduate of the Nigeria Institute of Journalism stated.

Sharing their experience at the Black journalists conference, Thomas-Davis who is also an evangelist said some of the memorable sessions included “Journalism on the go; When your beat takes you away from home” and “What you eat could drive your beat.” Noting that the conference also focused on the threat that digital technology poses to print and broadcast journalism he advised Nigerian journalists to wake up to the challenge of the new technologies and make sure they explore the many opportunities they offer, even before it starts being a threat to the practice of conventional journalism in the country.

Oyebode said the session that interested him most was on the topic “How to turn your story into best-sellers.” He said the session dwelt on how to write books from the beat one covers as a journalist. Citing the example of Robin Distol who wrote My Times in Black and White,

Oyebode said he has been challenged to write a good book on Nigerian elections having covered about four elections in the country as a political correspondent.

The Assistant Political Editor of The Nation encouraged journalists to take advantage of fellowship opportunities to enhance their career explaining that there is a lot to be learnt from interacting with colleagues from different parts of the world.

He urged students to make sure they find a way into a media organization even while in school, ensuring that they send news stories and articles to editors.

After sharing their experiences, the JFC President read a message by the Director of the World Journalism Institute, Robert Case 11 titled “The Need for Christian Journalists in Africa.”

“If we Christians continue to absent ourselves from the pursuit of news in the mainstream media, then it is unlikely that any remedy can hope to succeed in stemming the wayward winds of general relativism, skepticism, and nihilism.

“In this journalistic reawakening, it is important that the question whether enduring (abiding) Christian concerns are granted visibility, or whether the worldview of historic Christianity is suppressed by editorial decisions” Case noted

Just when the meeting was about to end, Adewole arrived to share the challenge by Obama during the meeting with some African youths.

According to Adewole, Obama stressed the need for the youths to be prepared to take charge of the leadership of the continent in the near future.

Gbenga Rufai, the immediate Past President of the Christian Communicators Fellowship of the University of Lagos announced an internship programme being planned for Year 1 and Year 2 members of his fellowship and sought for collaboration with media organizations.

The Chaplain, Reverend David Alabi rounded-off the discussion segment and urged members not to forget their duty as a Christian, which is to spread the Goodnews. “You are first a Christian before you are a journalist,” he said.

The birthday of members born in August was marked with special prayer and cutting of cake.

The next meeting holds on September 19 at the International Press Centre commencing from 11.00am.