Pursuit of journalism excellence

Proverbs 12:26 Joshua 1:8

Every man wants to achieve something in life. We want to be rich, build houses, have children, and buy cars. The process of making this a reality is what I call pursuit. Everything is a means, a pursuit to that end. Other words you will find in the class of pursuit is a chase, run after, follow after, and desire.

Excellence is described as the highest standard of measuring performance. It is the state of being extremely good. It is being extraordinary, brilliant, the best. It is the level the Bible describes the performance of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 1: 20.

“….And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” In over words, excellence is being 10 times better.

So, pursuit of excellence will mean making efforts, chasing, running after, the highest standard of measuring performance. It is seeking to be the best, and nothing but the best.

How do we then pursue excellence as Christian journalists?

1. Champions are not made in the ring, they are only recognised there. You don’t chance on excellence, you work your way there through daily decisions and commitments, daily usage of your time and talent. When you cultivate the habit of excellence in everything you do, success will locate you. It is only a matter of time, you will start getting the awards, rewards and recognitions. So, awards are not the ultimate, it is what you do with yourself.

2. You see farther when you stand on the shoulders of giants. You need mentors. A mentor will help reduce the stress of getting to your dream station. A mentor will guide you on what stories to write and how to go about them. A mentor will task and stretch you. A mentor will sharpen your vision and support you. A mentor will teach you how to write award-winning stories. A mentor will broaden your story ideas and give you better perspectives.

3. Things are changing in the journalism profession. Technology is displacing a lot of people. As a journalist, you should at least know how to use social media and you should be active. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn. You should learn how to build multimedia into your stories. You should become proficient in checking and detecting fake news on social media. You should subscribe to platforms like the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), for updates and information that can make you better. Continue developing yourself to stay relevant in the profession.

4. Journalism is a commitment to serving humanity. It is about passion and compassion. I personally get excited about my stories, especially when they are about human rights, abuse of power or corruption. Truth is, you need passion to succeed in all life endeavours.

5.  Determination and perseverance. There are times you may feel like giving up. You may not even get the encouragement you think you deserve, don’t ever give up. You may have submitted entries for certain awards and you have not even been nominated for once. Albert Einstein was quoted to have said, “I have tried 99 times and failed, but on the 100th time came success”. Don’t give up, keep trying. The story behind the glory makes the success story sweeter. Winners never quit and quitters don’t win.

6. Courage. As humans, we all have our fears. But as a journalist, you must never allow fear to stop you from pursuing your stories. Once you are sure of your facts and evidence (check and crosscheck please) go ahead and publish that report. Heaven will not fall.

7. The God-factor. As a Christian, you cannot joke with God, because without Him, you are nothing. God plays a central role in everything you do. And remember that whatever you achieve here on earth, whatever name you make for yourself, whatever award you win, they will pale to nothing in eternity. You must have a personal relationship with God so that in eternity, you can have heaven guaranteed. In other words, you must be born again so that you will not labour on vain.

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