When was the first time you knew journalism was going to be your passion and career?
As a child, the medium I had the privilege of constantly listening to was Radio Nigeria. When the signature tune was up for the news or any other program, it had this soothing effect because I looked forward to being entertained by how the anchor spoke and navigated through the programming. So, when I came to Lagos, I was opportune to explore every opportunity I had in the direction of the media, and that’s how it all began.
At what point did you feel your career was no longer just a job you showed up to? How did you pivot or even change the course of your career?
At the when point I started exploring the aspect of storytelling. I wanted to do more beyond sitting in the studio to get into the field in search of stories that were not press statements but people’s experiences. I loved the outcome. This also impacted how I treated the interviews I had in the studio, especially when it had a human-interest colouration to it. So, it became an obligation to hold people to account, ask probing questions, and seek solutions from experts when I had one on set with me.
What were some of the struggles for you in the early stages of your career, and how did you overcome them?
I struggled with everything a newbie would struggle with. From trying to find your footing, to harassment from some of the male folk, to struggling with self-confidence and battling with building the needed capacity to deliver on the job. Navigating through this was via the help of some support systems I got in the industry who held my hands through the various layers of challenges I went through. Above all, as a Christian I had the Holy Spirit come through for me as well.
Veronica Dan Ikpohi, TV Anchor: The media landscape has witnessed a drastic change in the last 3 years thanks to COVID-19 pandemic. Technology has taken over the way media is consumed. Data is at the core of story telling.
Do you still have any current challenges you’re trying to overcome?
I will not necessarily call it a challenge, but I will say that as the media space evolves, one must keep developing capacity so as not to become obsolete. There’s no end to learning new ways to do things, so I would say that I keep learning how to be better at what I do.
What are some of the barriers you think you might be imposing on your career that perhaps has not allowed you to hit the career target you’ve set for yourself?
Not networking enough.
Why is it important for you to overcome them?
Keep exploring every avenue and stretching beyond any limit to build the needed network. Networking is key to how quickly you advance in any field. The doors of opportunity that will open to you go beyond your qualification; who you know matters, who speaks for you in rooms you aren’t present also matters.
Any stories or projects you’ve done that was the most impactful in the course of your career?
I did a story on Female Genital Mutilation that got me recognition as a finalist on the 2016 CNN MULTICHOICE AFRICAN JOURNALIST AWARD Another story was on Girl Child Education that I saw my subject at the time, who was a primary school teacher in Makoko, who gained a scholarship to a private university in Nigeria and would be graduating soon.
Veronica Ikpoyi: A woman who goes the whole nine yards to deliver on her job and gets the needed results, earns the respect of her colleagues. When a woman occupies a position of authority, she should use that office to the advantage of the women folk such that when she leaves that position, others will be given room to occupy that position. Women should support each others growth, and not see each other as competitors, but rather build a system of emotional and psychological support for one another.
What career projection are you setting up for yourself you intend to meet up?
I have begun to see some manifestations of the projections I had. Recently, I was asked to host the Saturday Edition of Your View – a lifestyle Magazine show. Hosting a show where I can have conversations that are not limited to core news issues has been something I always wanted. However, I would also like to dig into the aspect of writing because I find solace in writing, so I am taking courses to help me approach writing from different perspectives. Exploring the production side to me in the areas of documentaries and filmmaking is something I have also started working on.
What training programmes or short courses have you attended, which you applied on the job that made the most impact for you?
To mention a few, Global investigative Journalism conference where various training workshops were held. Effective and authentic communication training for broadcasting masterclass. Media engagement training. Wikipedia fact checkers training. Advanced social media investigations training, and Data journalism training.
What suggestions will you give media owners or heads of media business to help boost morale, effectiveness, and reduce toxicity in the workplace?
They should create a path for growth and promotion of staffers so they don’t feel stuck, the welfare package must be decent enough, as much as they want to operate an open-door policy, there should be room for fair hearing so that their approach to human management would be seen as transparent.
Say you could reimagine your career, what would you do differently?
I would network much more and build a brand identity earlier than I have been able to do thus far. I would also have loved to have carved my niche much earlier than I did and focused on developing it. Secondly, I would delve into collaborating with NGOs to work on advocating against certain social ills and traditional practices. I also will not be on screen but prefer to be behind the scenes, creating magic.
How would you describe the media landscape and the disruptions that will affect the role of wand men in the media industry?
The media landscape has witnessed a drastic change in the last 3 years, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Technology has taken over the way media is consumed. Data is at the core of storytelling.
How and what can women in media begin to do differently and better to hold their own space within the media industry?
Women should be their authentic self and refuse to cower in the face of intimidation or harassment. Women must unfortunately have to do more to prove that they can shatter the ceiling or barriers by their work ethic. A woman who goes the whole nine yards to deliver on her job and gets the needed result earns the respect of her colleagues. When a woman occupies a position of authority, she should use that office to the advantage of the women folk such that when she leaves that position, others will be given room to occupy that position. Women should support each others growth and not see each other as a competitor and build a system of emotional and psychological support for one another.
What are some of your accomplishments that keeps you inspired to do more?
Recently, I was recognized by Women in Journalism Africa as one of the women journalists doing outstanding work and making an impact. I was named alongside other women who have been in the industry for decades. I was really encouraged by that.
I got an award two years ago for my being able to manage the home front as well as my work successfully by MTN/ MDG Global awards.
I also recently got an opportunity to be a part of the 4th cohort of the University of Oxford Climate Journalism Network that has a list of 100 journalists from around the world. It’s a big deal for me because I get to meet world leading experts who will help my perspective, not just climate reporting but other aspects of journalism.
In 2016, I was a Finalist of the CNN-MULTICHOICE African Journalist of the Year, which was the game changer in my life and career. My perspective about storytelling and journalism witnessed a shift. It was then I knew that storytelling, if done appropriately, could open doors of opportunities you never imagined.
Veronica Dan Ikpoyi: The various unions, guilds, and bodies in the Nigeria Media space in the media must wake up to their responsibility of looking out for their members and not just be about collecting monthly or yearly dues.
Any tips on personal development, career pursuit, network strategies, and wealth creation you would suggest to other women in media, including men, to tap into?
First is to find your niche… what are you good at or what beat do you find you love to cover and also what kinds of stories do you like to tell? when you’ve answered that question, then you can go to the next point.
Secondly, seek training around your niche to help you develop the needed capacity, gain knowledge, and become an authority. I have observed that media houses do not necessarily like to invest in training their staffers, so I suggest that individuals should seek this training themselves. There are several like IJNET, an open source that provides opportunities for training.
Thirdly, network with people in your chosen field each time opportunity presents themselves. Every training create opportunities for other training or wealth creation. Fourthly, expand your network beyond your niche by being resourceful and friendly. Creating wealth in the media is subject to how well you use opportunities and the network of persons you meet in the course of your work.
How do you balance your personal life, work, and family expectations? Which aspects give you the most challenges, and how were you able to overcome them?
I operate a structure around my life such that I put each of these issues in a scale of importance or preference for each day. I often have time to make these arrangements the previous night ahead of the following day because I have to wake up at 3:00 a.m. or 4:00 a.m. to prepare so I can get to work in good time. Initially, it was tough achieving a balance, especially when i had to research for my presentation and also have to cook when I get home and attend to other family demands. I began to use my spare time at work to do my research, and that gave me ample time to attend to family needs.
Tell us something about the Nigeria Media industry you would like to see change for the better?
Two key things that I would like to see changed in the industry are: investment in human capacity training as well as better welfare package. This will improve the media outlook, especially when people are trained, there will be commitment to go the whole hog because the welfare package is decent enough. Above all, the various unions, guilds, and bodies in the Nigeria Media space in the media must wake up to their responsibility of looking out for their members and not just be about collecting monthly or yearly dues.
What are your plans for yourself in the next three to five years?
I see myself as having made a remarkable level of impact based on the shows I handle and the stories I tell. I also see myself becoming a multimedia journalist where my scope of work is not limited to just the traditional media but also other digital platforms. I am hoping that i would also have done a lot more documentaries and had international collaborations in telling some compelling stories and also winning more awards.
Veronic Dan Ikpoyi (Your View’s set): Women must unfortunately have to do more to prove that they can shatter the ceiling or barriers by their work ethic. A woman who goes the whole nine yards to deliver on her job and gets the needed result earns the respect of her colleagues.
What is your current role and responsibilities you handle?
I am the co-anchor on one of Nigeria’s foremost breakfast shows, TVC BREAKFAST and Host of the weekend edition of YOUR VIEW, and I also do some reportage when I have stories to tell.
How do you think the Nigerian media can up its ante to compete more favourable with international media organization?
The Nigerian media is at a vantage position and has even been described as one of the liveliest in Africa by the BBC, foreign media. But the media is not taking advantage of this position because of one major factor, financial commitment, to its growth and expansion is very little compared to what the foreign media does. Thankfully, the human resource the Nigerian media has is not a problem at all because we see the various international recognition and awards some media practitioners have received in recent times. Hence, more investors who understand the business of media have to be willing to go the whole nine yards to invest in news gathering, in depth story telling, expanding the scope of the business to the international level as well as improving the welfare of staffers such that it’s internationally competitive.
How do you unwind from your hectic work schedule?
I love to watch movies – romantic, comedy, and action-packed movies. At other times, I love to spend time with loved ones as we do not see them as often as we want to because of work. I love to enjoy my beauty-sleep, or read a book. How can I forget to add that I relax when I sing, even though off key sometimes (we both laugh).
Written by ERU.