PUNCH organises refresher training to upskill and improve the capacity of journalists

The PUNCH Media Foundation in partnership with PUNCH Nigeria Limited organized an upskilling training, PUNCH Refresher Training, for the PUNCH editorial team to improve their reportorial skills from 21st June to 1st July 2021 in Lagos and Abuja.

The PUNCH refresher training like the immersion training featured veteran journalists and media professionals who stirred reporters’ passion towards telling compelling stories while elevating the reportorial language of PUNCH across platforms and reiterated the need to uphold the tenets of ethical and accountable journalism.

Yusuf Alli, the Managing Editor, Northern Operation at Vintage Press Limited, and ex-PUNCHER, who facilitated the session on exclusive story reporting, pointed that exclusive stories come from all beats. Hence, no reporter should be caught with the perception that their beat is a dry one. He further noted that the elements of surprise and excitement are always in exclusive stories, as they are hot, factual, and incontrovertible. He charged journalists to be smart with monitoring the interests of the public and be intentional about follow-ups focusing on unique areas that are not well explored in the initial report.

In her presentation on news reporting, Maureen Popoola, a lecturer at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ), Lagos indicated that reporters need to give more attention to developing solid background to their reports as it constitutes a critical part of news reporting. She charged journalists at the training to engage in enterprise stories, that is, stories that revisit previously published reports to make people understand them better and how such stories affect them; ensure that their reports give readers better insights into issues; build a cordial relationship with sources and contacts, and must consistently fact-check every report including those coming from government agencies and institutions

Rotimi Sankore, Rotimi Sankore, Chief Editorial Coordinator, Special Projects, AIM Media Group, in explaining the reason for the concept of news, said that news exists for people to know what is happening in their world, why it is happening, and how what is happening might affect them. He mentioned that developmental news, which is a news category in underdeveloped countries, is geared towards solving problems, thus, journalists in this clime cannot be found wanting in development reportage.

The session on story ideation and how to pitch story idea was handled by the Commissioning Editor with The Conversation Africa, Wale Fatade, who described the concept of ideation as the process of developing or generating ideas, and conveying those ideas to others. He explained further that the ideation process, which requires that one describes the sequence of thoughts from the original concept to execution, has different phases, including – sketching, prototyping, brainstorming, and brain-writing.He argued that, since it is not the business of the reporter to determine the occurrence of events but the reportage, it behoves reporters to familiarise and keep up with events as they happen, particularly on their beats, ensuring that nothing escapes their knowledge. Aside from events, which could be sources of ideas for stories, Wale Fatade stated that commitment to tireless reading is critical to generating good story ideas.

The importance of research skills to impactful reporting was the focus of the session facilitated by Motunrayo Alaka, the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), who stressed that journalists need to have and constantly hone their research skills to stay relevant in the journalism career. The research skills she discussed succinctly include critical thinking, problem-solving skills, analytical skills, and dissemination skills. She noted further that the foregoing skills are particularly important in the present age where everybody, with the use of their mobile gadgets, could publish news almost free of charge. Hence, she pointed that journalists, revered as reliable educators, must engage in proper research to ensure credibility of sources, to make greater impact.

Similarly, Lade Bonuola, the pioneer editor, and former Editor-in-Chief and Director at the Guardian Newspapers emphasised editing and proofreading as special skills to be honed by journalists, in general, and line editors/sub-editors, in particular. He stated also that knowing the class to which one’s media house belongs has a way of guiding one’s efforts, particularly bearing in mind that the sub-editors are gate-keepers of the editorial policy of their newspaper. He concluded his session by admonishing the journalists to write to express and not to impress.

Other courses taken at the training are online journalism by John Abayomi, former Online Editor, PUNCH Newspapers; investigative journalism by Fisayo Soyombo, Founder and Editor of Foundation for Investigative Journalism; features writing by Seun Akioye, Senior Media Officer, Centre for Communication and Social Impact; and social media by Kemi Abimbola, Head of Social Media, PUNCH Newspapers.

The PUNCH Refresher Training is designed for experienced journalists to upskill and equip them with the skill-set required to improve their effectiveness in the newsroom and the journalism profession, in general, thereby positioning them as change agents in the media and development space.

PUNCH Media Foundation (PMF) is a non-governmental organisation established in 2019 with a mission to stimulate a just and thriving society using the instrument of public policy advocacy, journalism, and media development.

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