Title of publication:
SOLUTION-DRIVEN RURAL POVERTY REPORTING INITIATIVE
Summary of highlights and outcomes of IPC’s solution driven/poverty reporting project in Nigeria
Author: International Press Centre (IPC) with the support of World Association for Christian Communication (WACC)
No of pages: 24
Reviewer: Adewale Adeoye, Executive Director, JOURNALISTS FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS
I wish to commend the International Press Centre, (IPC) for this piece of art and also the World Association For Christian Communication for supporting IPC in carrying out the project implementation, whose summary outcome makes up the content of this publication. Documenting this as an outcome of their work on how media and grass root collaboration can engender development, especially addressing rural poverty conditions at the grass roots serves as a valuable asset for posterity. All over the world, what moves nations and people from stupor to greatness is ideas. This publication is another major contribution to the world of form. The world will run out of energy the day ideas are no more.
This small but significant publication represents a critical engagement of the media’s role in reflecting the echoes from the valleys. I suspect the IPC took the challenge up owing to the declining fortunes of the Nigerian media in meeting public expectations and being the platform for all interests.
Over the years, the Nigerian media has witnessed its worst decline. News stories have come to reflect only the wishes and aspirations of the rich and influential. Newspaper and electronic media have come to portray more of the interests of the few. The travails, pains and pangs of the poor, the downtrodden, the marginalized majority are left unattended to. Even when stories of poverty are reported, the media only scratch the surface. Pictures about poverty follow the trend of opportunism instead of raising critical issues of underdevelopment.
The book has come to challenge this tradition by providing a new guideline that should lead to a paradigm shift.
The publication emphasizes the fact that journalism is not a property of the rich to be manipulated to the disadvantage of the people. It teaches us that the grundnorm of journalism must not be thrown into the thrashbin, that the founding principle of mass communication is to give a voice to the people, not alone to their leaders, who sometimes are also their tormentors alone.
The publication may be small but the frame of mind is huge and inexhaustible. It redefines the current role of the Nigerian media by making a conscious attempt to draw back the missing sheep. The publication captures the strategic role that the media can play in advancing the cause of the people at the lowest ladder of the ladder. Inspite of the fact that the poor do not have the purchasing power, but their expectations, their fears and aspirations must be projected.
This publication demonstrates IPC’s prominent lead in media capacity building which has enabled the institution to enhance public interest reporting. The book is a 24 page summary of media enhanced community led activities built around solution-driven rural poverty reporting initiative which focuses on Advancing the development issues of 8 Grassroots Communities in Lagos.
The publication summed up a series of engagement on how the media was instrumental in capturing the pains, frustrations and concerns of rural settings, and providing the edge to facilitating organs of government to meet the development needs of the eight pilot grass root communities in Lagos State
The report also provides information on the state of infrastructure in rural Lagos communities. It enriches the ability of journalists to report diversity issues involved in a class driven political economy.
One of the most striking aspects was to bring rural communities to interact with journalists. Journalists after training also conducted visits to communities between November 2015 and April 2016.
During the engagement, efforts were made to draw government attention to specific challenges of rural communities, leading to the achievement of certain milestones. For instance, the construction of poor roads at the Bolaji Omupo, Bashoa CDA in Somolu Local Government, the rehabilitation of Obele Odan community Primary School in Obele Oniwahala, Surulere and the construction of a major link road into Erejuwa community in makoko area of Lagos Mainland Local Government are striking examples. The project also involved empowering community representative to write of letters to local government administrators between March and October 2016 on the plight of affected communities, meeting local administrators and coming up with concrete solutions that address the needs of the people.
It is a great attempt at merging the wide gap between ordinary people and the men and women who control commerce, politics and economy. It gives a narrative that redirects our energy to the core tenets of journalism. It shows clearly the strong and inseparable link between sustainable development and journalism when practiced according to its traditional values and norms.
The publication of this book should not end in a room. It must not end on the table. It should be on the streets, in the news rooms, on the desk of every reporter and editor across Nigeria and throughout the West African sub-region.
I commend the IPC for this amazing contribution to development journalism. The publication is handy, easy to digest and produced in simple language that everyone should understand.
The other aspect is how do we transform this document into a working tool in the newsrooms? How do journalists adopt the recommendations in this book as a working document? What strategies have been adopted by the IPC to sustain the momentum that has been built with this project. What other roles can government, funders and development partners play in supporting initiatives like this to address the development of grass root communities?
I believe the IPC could do more in terms of the graphics of the book. I am also not sure of the percentage of print media especially radio that took part in the project.
In all, this is a great piece, a master piece, a clear example of how the IPC has continued to play roles in advancing the role of the media in development in Nigeria and West Africa in terms of capacity building and the commendable effort of creating a permanent synergy between journalism and sustainable development in an obviously tough environment.