EDITORS LAB: Practitioners advocate social media coverage of 2015 elections

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By IKENNA ASOMBA

Lagos— Journalists, web designers and developers from top media houses and the academia, have canvassed for a paradigm shift by utilising new internet applications and social media for effective coverage of the 2015 elections.

The call was made, yesterday, at the two-day Editors Lab Hackdays sponsored by Google and organised by Global Editors Network, GEN, in conjunction with Vanguard Newspapers.

Participants were drawn from from Vanguard, Daily Trust, Leadership, The Nation, The Nigerian Tribune, Channels Television, Television Continental, TVC, Tell newsmagazine, The News, The Sun newspapers, Cool FM, the School of Media and Communication, Pan-Atlantic University, and the Mass Communication Department, University of Lagos, UNILAG.

‘Online journalism is today’s media’

While declaring the programme open, Mr. Eze Anaba, Vanguard’s Deputy Editor, said: “Online journa-lism, many will say, is of the future. But I daresay, without any fear of being immodest, that online journalism is the media of today.

HACKDAYS: Mr. Ameth Sokhna, Project Manager, Global Editors Network, GEN, (right) addressing participants during GEN's Editors Lab at Vanguard newspapers, yesterday.

HACKDAYS: Mr. Ameth Sokhna, Project Manager, Global Editors Network, GEN, (right) addressing participants during GEN’s Editors Lab at Vanguard newspapers, yesterday.

“You cannot be a complete journalist without knowing about the online media. It complements the print media. Vanguard as a print media, gets firsthand knowledge about stories it publishes from the online media.

“Increasingly, you discover that the online media makes things happen, which the print media follow-up on.

“For example, one of the resource persons talked about the ‘go-and-die’ widow and Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, which was first carried by the online media before the print media followed-up with the story.

“Other examples are stories about policemen collecting bribes from motorists. The online media first carry the news before the print media pounce and give it more flesh.

“The online media practitioners have also contributed as part of agents of change. So, it will be apt to say that one cannot be a fantastic newspaper person without engaging in the online media.”

Participants

The participants were taken first-hand on the fundamentals of Google applications such as Google search, display ads, knowledge panel, modifiers, conversion, Google scholar, Google translate, Google trends, Youtube, Google maps, Google streaming among others, by the duo of Mr. Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, Communications & Public Affairs Manager for Google in West Africa and Mr. Ameth Sokhna from GEN.

They were later asked to develop digital tools for journalists with the focus on “New ways to cover elections online and through social media.”

The participants lauded the initiators, while expressing optimism that journalists will effectively report the forthcoming 2015 general elections.

Mr. Lekan Otufodunrin, The Nation’s Managing Editor, Online, said: “It has been an interesting session, starting with the Google representatives that have done a lot of presentation on the use of Google beyond ordinary search. It is very informative.”

Dr. Ifeoma Amobi, a lecturer at the Department of Mass Communication, UNILAG, Akoka, while lauding the initiative, said: “The workshop became imperative as it is a well-known fact that the audience of the media have today migrated to the Internet.

“Any journalist who wants to be competitive in today’s media world must be techno-savvy. He must be efficient in the use of the new media, particularly, the social media because that is where we now have large number of our audience.

Also, Oba Adeoye, a correspondent with TVC, said: “As a TV journalist, you will realise that most times when you go out on the field you need to still package and present what you come back with in form of a report, and this takes a lot of time.

*Cross section of participants

*Cross section of participants

“It takes an hour or two before you write your script, pass it on to the visual editor, before you package the voice and so on.

“However, when you have something that is online, something that is handy and interactive, the media consumers out there can easily relate with, then the job becomes easier for the journalist.

“In order words, as you get the information, the consumer of the information are ready. It is an instanta-neous thing and I think this is very good for the Nigerian media practice in this age.”

Google emphasises elections

While explaining the essence of the two-day event, Kola-Ogunlade, affirmed that it’s high time media practitioners began to take their knowledge of online media to the next level, especially as 2015 elections draw close.

He said: “As the 2015 general elections approaches, I think it’s high time media practitioners take their knowledge of the online space to the next level because an appreciation of how the internet works is really important to be able to serve the current generation of online savvy Nigerians.

“Current data shows that over 49 percent of Nigerians are online and about 70 percent of them go online to source for news.

“This training becomes imperative. The media practitioners are not educated enough. They do not have enough appreciation on how the internet works. So there is a problem serving the teeming Nigerians who want news online.”

Vanguard

Explaining the choice for Vanguard as host of the Nigerian maiden edition, Kola-Ogunlade said: “Vanguard is one of Nigeria’s top online media. Not only is it a reputable brand, it is also one of the most prominent brands online.

“So when the entire conversation started in conjunction with the Global Editors Network, it was an easy decision picking Vanguard.”

The Google West African spokesperson urged the participants to have an open mind, pointing out that the media terrain is expanding.

He said: “Participants must have an open mind. They must not think ‘this is how they have been doing it’. The essence of training such as this is to get journalists to begin to think out of the box.

“Participants must also be willing to meet new friends from other media organisations and share ideas. This can be the beginning of greater and much bigger things to come.”

The Editors Lab is a worldwide series of hackdays hosted by some of the world’s leading newsrooms. This edition will conclude in an international two-day final Hackathon at the GEN Summit from June 11 to 13 in Barcelona, Spain.

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