The PUNCH Nigeria Limited in collaboration with the PUNCH Media Foundation, the nonprofit arm of PUNCH, organised a three-week immersion training from 6th to 24th April 2021 at the PUNCH Place, Magboro, Ogun State for 21 new intakes.
The training opened with an extensive onboarding session where the new reporters were introduced to every department in PUNCH and how these departments interconnect with their roles. The Chairman, Editorial Board of PUNCH, Mr Segun Adediran, walked the reporters through the history of PUNCH and its culture while speaking on the successes and challenges that have contributed to making PUNCH the most widely read newspaper in Nigeria.
Being training for fresh journalists, engaged resource persons taught thefundamentals of impactful reportorial skills, using the module prepared by the PUNCH Media Foundation as a guide.Thefirst week featured modules from news reporting to feature writing, from analysis to opinion writing, to story ideation, editing, and headlining among others.
Dr Jide Johnson, a lecturer at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism was one of the resource persons engaged on the training. He took trainees through basic techniques of news writing, noting that news provides people with the gist about daily happenings, and since humans enjoy gist naturally, they are willing to pay to get it. He charged the trainees to embrace the rigour of gathering and writing news if they will enjoy the glamour it attracts when it is excellently done.
Similarly, Ms Toyosi Ogunseye, Head of West Africa, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), in her training session, Story ideation and the art of storytelling, pointed out that “journalism has gone beyond telling people what you want them to know to telling them what they are interested in knowing.” Hence, she enjoined trainees to keep up with the current trend by following platforms where conversations take place. She added that thinking in pictures and videos, cultivating a team spirit, being original, keeping it short, interesting, and humane, among others, are skills any serious journalist should imbibe.
Editorial writing, a session facilitated by Mr Biodun Sonowo, a senior member of the PUNCH Editorial Board, focused on the style, rules, and practices surrounding editorial reporting at PUNCH. Biodun Sonowo was clear in stating that Editorial is that part of the news that reflects the position of the newspaper or publisher on a public issue and thus requires good command of English and the ability to analyse issues and present them logically and comprehensively.
Mr Amzat Ajibola, Editor of the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), facilitated the first session on feature writing: Basic technique & structure. He advised journalists to be intentional about keeping readers focused on the impressive characters in their features to enable themto sustain the interest of readers. Amzat Ajibola also noted that the only thing that differentiates a journalist from a stenographer is that a journalist has the training and the liberty to use their minds, while stenographers do not. Hence, suggesting that reporters engage their minds in researching, observing, analysing and interpreting issues in such a way that readers are better informed and adequately empowered.
In the same way, Ms Tessy Igomu, Head of PUNCH Investigation, enjoined the reporters to always ensure that they tell stories from a human angle, knowing that people, even those that are not inclined to reading, enjoy reading about others, especially when they can relate. In addition, she emphasised the need to attract and sustain the attention of readers in every part of the story as some people decide whether or not to read a story by mere browsing through the lead.
Dr Olayinka Oyegbile, Lead/CEO of Double-O Communications, took his time to take the trainees through the basics of crafting headlines as professionals.He stated that the headline is the window to the story, and it should be as short as possible while capturing accurately and specifically the content of the story.
Other resource persons engaged in the first week included Mrs Maureen Popoola,Senior Lecturer at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism;Mr Fola Daniel Adelesi, President and Founder of Edible Pen Group; Ms Shola Lawal, an independent ﬁlmmaker and freelance West African correspondent for the Mail & Guardian; andMr Joel Nwokeoma, Acting Online Editor, PUNCH Newspapers, among others.
It was not all work for the reporters as the training module made room for some play. The reporters engaged in all sorts of indoor and outdoor activities, including aerobics. Week one of the immersion training ended with reporters listening to experiences of older colleagues who encouraged them to give journalism their best shot as it is a service to humanity and a platform that allows them to influence change.
The PUNCH Immersion Training, an initiative of the PUNCH Media Foundationin collaboration with PUNCH Nigeria Limited, is designed to build the capacity of new reporters in the employ of PUNCH, equipping them with the right skill-set to drive change through storytelling, as well as stir a burning passion for ethical and accountable journalism in them.
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.