Problems scream, solutions whisper: I-79 Media Consults Trains Student Journalists on Solutions Journalism

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By Temiloluwa Erinle

On May 24, about 25 student journalists convened for an e-seminar, themed “Campus Solutions,” on the popular teleconferencing app -Zoom.

The seminar was hosted by I-79 Media Consults, a media-focused organisation that especially facilitates the training of early-career media practitioners.

From May 24 to 26, these campus journalists from tertiary institutions exclusively in Nigeria and Ghana were tutored on the importance, ethical methods, and modes of delivery of solutions journalism. A lens of journalism that is only just beginning to take hold on major stories in the world by highlighting social innovations.

In the three-day course, different experienced media practitioners, one module after the other, introduced the students to the world of solutions journalism, exposing its methods and outlining its anatomy. Likewise, emphasizing its importance as a tool for accountability, in societies, and for building hope and social progress through exposed innovations that would otherwise have gone unnoticed and died out, especially in this part of the world—Africa—where almost every section of the news page is painted black and bleak.

The facilitators were Seun Durojaye – Founder, Social Voices; Innocent Eteng – Founder, Prime Progress; Chibuike Alagboso – Health Journalist, Nigeria Watch; Lekan Otunfodurin – Executive Director, Media Career Development Network; Abass Mpindi – CEO, The Media Challenge Initiative; Dina Aboughazala – Founder, Egab; Rasheed Adebiyi – Co-Founder, AbitoCitta; and Ifedayo Ogunyemi – 2022 LEDE Fellow.

The popular definition in the community of solutions journalism, describes solutions journalism “as rigorous evidence-based reporting of responses to social problems.” 

In different phraseology, each facilitator warned that solutions journalism isn’t, and mustn’t be, promotional.

It must “address a response, lay down the evidence of the effectiveness of the solution, find insights and lessons from it, and lastly, evaluate and present the limitations of and challenges facing the solution.”

About the course, Abdulsemiu Monsuroh, a trainee and student of Lagos State University (LASU), said, “First of all, I will describe my experience as eye-opening, interesting, empowering, basically because, seriously, I got to learn a lot in three days […]  I took a lot of value from the training; it was value-packed and I took a lot of experiences. I am glad.”

Another trainee, Jairus Awo, a freelance climate journalist, said, “I had a good time at the training interacting with so many media trainers and solutions expert. I have never attended such a solutions journalism training. It opened my eyes to the core values of solutions journalism. So many things stood out for me but here are a few of them: one, that solutions journalism is capable of spurring further solutions and development in our country; two, that solutions journalism can rewrite the African media identity in the international world.”

Felicia Oyeniran, one of the program organisers representing I-79 Media Consults, speaking to the Press Club, UNILAG, said her organisation wants solutions stories in campuses, wants student journalists to re-picture their environment and rewrite stories “that people can use as a reference point to build on and particularly solve an actual problem.”

I-79 Media Consults has further selected 15 student journalists from the training who will be offered a grant to write solutions stories and become ambassadors of solutions journalism in their respective campuses.

Felicia concluded, “So we hope that the trainees would go further and we would begin to hear their names in things that have to do with solutions journalism as a whole […] basically, that’s what we hope to see.”

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