Pressing for Progress in the Media

All thanks and appreciation to God Almighty for this grand opportunity to stand before wonderful people of a very noble pen profession.

Don’t be surprised that I call ours a noble profession because I know for sure and for certainty there is a greater measure of nobility in a profession that allows one to be creative, novel, courageous and determined to dare make a difference in a dynamic world.

So, I am really excited to be here after so many years I last attended the Fellowship.

Treating the topic of our conversation: #PressingforProgress in the Media, I will like to refer to the Scriptures in Philippians 3:14 {Pressing on Toward the Goal}.

From the New International version: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”.

From the foregoing, we have a picture of a man who had a great zeal for the mission laid before him and in spite of all the challenges that he faced he kept pressing on and was not relented to achieve the vision, the goal to make it to the end.

Now, this is a passage I cherish so much for motivation whenever I am challenged. And it naturally came flowing back into me while preparing for this message.

The International Women’s Day was celebrated on March 8 with the theme: #PressForProgress in Gender Parity. In the real sense of the theme, let us ask ourselves, “How does this apply to the media?”

When I got the invitation to speak to the theme #PressForProgress in the Media, at today’s Fellowship, the first thing that came to my mind was how to speak to the fact that we earnestly need to harness the gains of the recent years in the media especially as these relate to gender parity.

All around us gender parity ie equality, is still a far cry. However for us in the media I dare say we are making progress and there is an urgent need to harness the gains we have made to ensure the media world attains the goal of parity.

The Goal:

What is the goal for us in the media world? As media professionals, we are expected to press for a society where peace and justice reign. As the mirror, we not only reflect the “what”, “how”, “why” or “how” of a society, we equally present the “don’t”, the “dos” and the “that” of the society. And, our goal is to get to a destination where all peoples genuinely reach a desired achievement of the state of satisfaction.

In time past, the newsroom was a place where everyone came in and roles assigned were in disparity. The male Journalist was often assigned to beats like Business, Politics, Judiciary, Defence and State House, Crime, City Beat and even Science and the likes; while the females covered Education, Women and Children, Home Affairs and Décor and Health to name a few of the soft beats.

Then, you find women whose dreams were mainly to aspire to be Women Editors. As recent as 1990s to 2000, we could count the number of women who held reins of leadership in the media world either in the print or electronic/broadcast world.

It wasn’t because women were not competent rather, I think, it was because the industry players were afraid that if given the chance, women will definitely change the game plan.

Even, most of the supporting staff in the newsroom who did the type setting of stories and page planning were men. The few women among them did morning/ afternoon shift, while the men take on afternoon/night shifts. The few women who were planners were often the ones who were not married.

The story in the marketing or advert departments was not so different. Women were employed to canvass for adverts but their team leaders were often men.

All these were just a few years ago. Today, has the story changed? I think we are pressing higher.

From those humble days where women had to work so hard to get to the few exalted positions, the story is changing and that is why we must continue to press for progress.

Opportunities:

Continually, everyone regardless of our gender, periodically need to do SWOT analysis of ourselves. We need to examine what are our:

Strength:  in terms of education, values and orientation to enable us press for the desired progress. It is not enough to daily engage in routine assignments given to us by our editors or desk heads without going the extra mile to convert the energy we spend on those assignments to our benefits. (Personal experience)

I have learnt over the years that it is best to expend one’s zeal and energy on profitable ventures while working as a young reporter. Some of us may need the prompting of our seniors to mentor and encourage us. The strength of every individual however lies in the ability to recognise the passion within in order to achieve the ultimate goal.

Besides the daily routine of gathering and writing stories, what else? Discovering the extra strength innate of each of us definitely makes the difference in pressing for progress.

Weakness: How much of me is weak? This is a question we need to ask ourselves always. As a Journalist, we are not different from others in the medical world, in business or in Politics. We need to acknowledge the fact that we all have our weak moments in life. What are the challenges that make me vulnerable to lose my strength? Could it be time management, could it be deficiency in skills, certain level of education, inability to multi-task (especially as female Journalists who has to raise families and still work so hard to earn recognition in the newsroom etc. Being able to examine what constitutes weakness to achieving progress is a step to solving the problem. (My experience).

Opportunities: There is no doubt that opportunities abound in the media world to press for progress and make the whole lot of difference. The challenge many of us face is identifying the opportunities and taking the advantage at the right and appropriate time. It is worse for the female Journalist who thinks she is disadvantaged. No one is disadvantaged even when there is some form of disability I keep telling myself.

In years past, we had to go through the darkroom t print photographs, we had to cut and paste to plan pages, we had to give or stories to typesetters after writing in long hand on off-cuts, then stay for ever to get a clean copy to the press. Today, the story has changed for many in my generation that is so blessed to be the bridge.

We now have the computers, whether laptops, phones, Ipad etc with which we can use to produce our pages and send directly to the press.

For some of us who no longer have to print, the Online tool has become so dynamic. The opportunities to speak to the whole world at once has become a condition for everyone to take advantage for progress. No one should ever be caught off guard with the new media. It is indeed a global opportunity to leverage disparity.

Threats: Are there threats that can limit the potentials to achieve the desired goal? Often as Journalists, we do not see those things that threaten us to achieving our goal. For the female Journalists, the threat could be the inability to manage the home front with work. I speak from experience, we are not different from other women in other professions have met over my years of practice about 29years.  We are threatened by our inability to raise families and cope with work pressure, we are threatened by challenges to deliver quality reports like or male counterparts, we are threatened by editors who demand we do as much to deserve as much..however, we must ask, are these threats real or perceived and are they surmountable or can be circumvent. The threats are of course surmountable in today’s world of opportunities.

I belong to the Guild of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria (GPBN) and in the Guild we have almost equal number of women and men who own their online publishing outfits and blogs which cut across all genres of media. The new media has offered a platform for leverage for Gender Parity. For any female Journalist who wants t remain credible and reckoned with, building a credible platform takes courage, determination and passion for success.

SWOT analysis carried out regularly allows anyone desiring to press for progress to discover the challenges and solutions to make the goal for which Christ has called us as soldiers in the media world.

I see a new vision for a new horizon in a short while…. Like Paul, “I continually press towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”.

The goal for me therefore is to run the Journalism race to the enviable end through Christ Jesus.

 

Thank you for your attention.

 

Speech delivered by Mrs. Yinka Shokunbi, Managing Editor, HealthStylePlus