An Agenda for Media Reportage In the Digital Age
By Inyene Ibanga

TECH DIGEST –  All critical sectors of the society are experiencing the spectacular impact of digital technology in several different ways. The disruptive power of digital technology is pervasive across every area of human endeavour; it generates creative and innovative solutions to problems facing the people and their environments.

Most industries are adapting to the evolving trends that come with digital technology and innovation. The media industry happens to be the most affected, owing to the massive proliferation of digital devices.

The increase in mobile devices has brought a remarkable shift in how the media creates and distributes content. As a result, media practitioners in Nigeria are taking steps to hone their skills for optimal performance in the digital age.

This was the premise upon which a crop of digital-savvy media practitioners and social media influencers converged on Kano, the ancient Pyramid City. Also in attendance were some film producers from the city’s movie industry, popularly known as Kannywood.

Drawn from various media organisations operating in the Northern States, the practitioners were participants at a media workshop for journalists and social media influencers.

Group photograph of participants after after the workshop organized by Arewa Agenda with support from NITDA
Group photograph of participants after after the workshop organized by Arewa Agenda with support from NITDA

The two-day event was organised by Arewa Agenda, a frontline online publication and PRNigeria Centre, with the support of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA),  and it had as theme, “Setting the Digital Reporting Agenda for a Digital Nigeria.”

Resource persons with vast professional experience in media and digital technology imparted practical knowledge to equip journalists and social media influencers with the skills to use technological tools for reportage and the creation of relevant content.

A presentation titled “Digital Inclusion and the Global Realities” noted that the digital inclusion of more individuals and communities would guarantee access to and use of information and communications technology tools to generate, store and process data for guaranteed economic, social and political empowerment.

Thus, digital inclusion is inevitable for the successful implementation of Nigeria’s digital economy, where the delivery of quality services, high efficiencies and productivity thrive across all sectors.

The first day ended with the presentation, “Global Trends: Social Media for Advocacy” by Ali Isa, founder of Advocacy for Development Initiative, which highlighted digital advocacy and the tools necessary to achieve targeted outcomes.

It pointed out the purpose of this sort of advocacy and the skills need to effectively deploy social media to drive change and development.

In view of the ever-changing nature of social media, participants were advised to continuously evaluate their social media plans, while maximising their reach and audience engagement in order to achieve set goals for specific digital advocacy campaigns.

Ahmad Muhammad Ahmad of the Kano Institute of Information Technology started the presentations on the second day with a paper, “Entrepreneurship Skills for Digital Economy”, which explained the multi-dimensional skills necessary for building wealth in a digital economy.

He highlighted the basic and advanced levels of digital skills required for building the capacity of citizens, so as to gainfully apply them in the digital era.
In his paper, “Networking and Work Plan”, Musa Abdullahi Sufi, Programme Coordinator at The Challenge Initiative, harped on the importance of networking among media practitioners and social media influencers towards shaping the digital reporting agenda for a new Nigeria powered by digital technology.

The paper, “Journalism for Digital Inclusion”, presented by Mallam Yushau Shuaib, award-winning PR expert and Editor-in-Chief of PRNigeria, urged the participants to always be guided by the ethics of the media profession and practice of journalism. This would help to reduce the expanding wave of fake news, disinformation and misinformation that is plaguing Nigeria and the world at large.

According to him, journalists and social media influencers should focus on reporting issues on the basis of facts and not sentiments, which are capable of affecting the peace and progress of the country.

He observed that media practitioners must adapt to evolving digital technologies to influence their different audience by producing relevant content for advancing development in our communities.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the sponsor of the workshop, was ably represented by its Head of Corporate Affairs and External Relations, Mrs. Hadiza Umar.

Mrs Umar advised journalists and social media influencers to demonstrate professionalism toward setting a new digital agenda in the discharge of their responsibilities as key players in the march to the digitisation of Nigeria.
She enumerated the several intervention programmes embarked upon by NITDA across educational institutions and communities in different states of the federation as part of its mandate of promoting the use and development of information technology in all sectors of the economy.

NITDA’s image-maker expressed satisfaction with the new and increasing motivation for the acquisition of digital literacy/skills by the teeming youths of the country in different spheres of human endeavour.

This, she noted, is testimony that many individuals and communities are favourably disposed to the opportunities offered by digital technology.

The highpoint of the event was the unveiling of the Network for Advocates of Digital Reporting (NADIR) established as a forum for coordinating advocacies of journalists and social media influencers in northern Nigeria.

To wrap up the workshop, participants called on the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and NITDA to intensify effort towards ensuring digital inclusivity to allow more people into the social media space in the country.

Furthermore, the participants committed themselves to serve as change agents in the vanguard of using social media for the promotion of social/behavioural change and development of the region and the country in general.

In the final analysis, NITDA should sustain awareness creation programmes in all parts of the country in order to enhance digital literacy for guaranteed growth, as digital inclusion does not only empower the people, but it also makes the future brighter for everyone.

Inyene Ibanga writes from Wuye District, Abuja.