By Franklin Ocheneyi
AGAINST the backdrop that “90 million Nigerians are on mobile,” Lafarge Africa Plc recently trained some media professionals in Nigeria on how to write for the web audience.
The capacity building programme, tagged: ‘Digital journalism: Skills and content creation tools,’ was held at the prestigious School of Media and Communication, Pan Atlantic University (PAU) Ibeju -Lekki, Lagos.
Isaac Ezechukwu, Director, Professional Education, SMC PAU, underscores the importance of the training: “The many changes in the technological realm have eradicated the previous monopoly held by newspapers. The online platform has facilitated a different relationship with the consumer and opened the door to so many more possibilities for accessing information. With the many options for obtaining information and entertainment now available, journalists must find ways to both capture and hold the attention of the consumer. They must innovate in order to stay relevant.”
In her presentation Writing and Reporting for the Web, Temitope Falade, noted that online readers have certain characteristics that the writer must take into consideration.
“The nature of the medium means that there is a tendency for people to do more skimming and to have a short attention span. Thus, writing for the medium has, necessarily, to be different from writing for hard copy publication,” she said.
She exposed the participants to the right format to use for web-based writing and also the quick means for keeping one’s reporting up to date, the use of blogs and the social media.
“Professionally, the choice of topic and the faculty helped in re-tooling me to catch up with additional skills needed to enhance my presentation of news, especially to the highly mobile, brisk and visual-inclined emerging audience.”
Mr. Francis Onwumere handled the class on Digital Audio and Podcasting.
According to him, journalist must be versatile and find ways to engage the different senses.
“Audio clips are one way of improving news articles. For instance, while it is true that interviews can be transcribed and included in the text, it is also true that many times, due to constraints of space, one is forced to limit how much of the interview is used. The use of podcasts makes it possible to capture different aspects of a news story and enhance the reader’s engagement with the issue at hand.”
Patrick Enahoro, taught the class on Data Visualisation. He observed that a key problem in many news reports is that of a lack of depth.
“Oftentimes, the reports lack the necessary data because the persons concerned do not know where or how to locate it. One of the tasks the journalist is faced with is that of locating such data, mining it and presenting it to the reader in an attractive and understandable way.
For example, if you write a feature story on cement capacity in Nigeria, without a chart, that is a big hole.”
He guided the participants on how to search public data and how to extract raw data from web sources, how to examine sample datasets for hidden messages and how to present this data in an attractive way that is easily accessible to the reader.
Mr. Inemi Ken Esere, in his presentation on Digital Photography and Video, noted that for digital journalism, photos and videos are not only possible, they are a requirement.
He explained that Photographs and videos create added interest for one’s stories and give the reader a multi-sense experience. He guided the participants on how to take good photographs and record videos and how to edit the photographs and videos using editing tools such as Adobe, Powerpoints, Photoshop, etc.
“Thank You, Lafarge”
Taofik Salako, Capital Market Editor at The Nation’s Newspaper, said: “Professionally, the choice of topic and the faculty helped in re-tooling me to catch up with additional skills needed to enhance my presentation of news, especially to the highly mobile, brisk and visual-inclined emerging audience.
“I find the entire content on Digital Journalism impressive, given that it dealt with emerging trend in the media space and more importantly, its direct empowerment as a content provider.
I used to work on excel, but I learnt easier ways to make my charts and graphs with better aesthetics and more meaningful. This is invaluable as a financial journalist that often has to present data in charts and graphs. I now have a better understanding of how many applications can be used to produce trendy contents.”
Ugochukwu Aliogo of the ThisDay Newspaper also lauded the programme, saying: “I will like to appreciate Lafarge Africa PLC for this opportunity. It was helpful in a good way. It has helped to broaden my knowledge about the profession especially digital journalism. I’m hoping to leverage on the opportunities and friendship gained at the workshop to raise the boundaries of my career,” he said.
Franklin Alli, ex- Industry Correspondent Vanguard Newspaper, and now the Editor of Nigeria Industrial Digest (Online) said: “A million thanks to Lafarge for the timely course. “I have been groomed to become a One-Stop Journalist- Reporter, Photojournalist and a TV Camera man,” he said.