Maiden Ibru, others honoured at WIJAfrica 2017 conference

Mrs Maiden Ibru

The 2017 Women In Journalism Africa (WIJAfrica) conference, which held during the week at the MUSON Centre in Lagos, was a celebration of excellence, pioneers and innovators. The annual conference that is presently in its fourth year, hosted female and male journalists from all forms of media and pertinent issues relating to today’s media in the digital age amongst other things, were put on the front burner and discussed in detail.

Furthermore, the conference had four honorees this year, including the Publisher of The Guardian Newspaper, Lady Maiden Alex Ibru, who was honoured for the innovation and rebirth of the newspaper on other platforms. Others honorees include Sola Momoh, Vice Chairman, Channels Media Group; Mo Abudu, CEO, Ebony Life Television and Toun Okewake-Sonaiya, Founder and CEO, WFM 91.7.

Guest Speaker at the conference was Professor Anthea Garman from Rhodes University’s School of Journalism, South Africa. Also present at the auspicious occasion were Adesuwa Onyenokwe, Tosin Bucknor, Kris Ero, Judith Okonkwo, Teju Allen, Rich Tanksley, Colette Otusheso, Ikechukwu Obiaya and Anderson Uvie-Emegbo. Others include, Adedoja Allen, Stephanie Busari, amongst many others.

With the theme: “Pioneers, Innovators and The Brave New World”, the panelists, divided into three separate panels, described it as very timely considering the fact that the media business needs innovation desperately to fit in with the times.

Dr Bola Balogun, AGM, Lagos Water Corporation represented the wife of Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode. In her goodwill message, she said that women need to get more involved in the process of information dissemination. Commending women for breaking through the glass ceiling and holding top positions in media and other key sectors, she urged participants to appropriate the theme and keep challenging the status quo, as women need to enhance their socio-economic standing and raise their standard of living.

The Director of Special Duties, NIMASA, Lami Tumaka lamented the dearth of female journalists especially in the Northern part of the country and suggested ways to address it. She revealed that mentorship was lacking and the known journalists are dying/retiring with no one to take up from where they left off.

Judith Okonkwo implored women to go ahead and do what they want to do without asking for permission from anyone. “Do not wait for anyone, go ahead and do that thing you have been afraid of for so long. If no one has done it before, even better, be the innovator then,” she said.

On her part, Teju Allen pointed out that journalism has moved from the conventional method of a reporter moving about with a camera crew to tell people the news. “With a smartphone, anyone can record a video and tell the news to thousands of people, live. You need to be able to compete with that. You either innovate or die; this is the only way forward. Many media houses are struggling to stay afloat because they refused to move with the times and this is where online media has an advantage.”

Other panelists stressed the need to innovate, take risks and move with the times. They also harped on the need to see oneself as a brand and the need to move from a comfort zone to challenge oneself.

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