Friday, April 19, 2024
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My Media Journey: When Media, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality Meets, I’ve Got You Covered – Azeezat Adedigba Armah, REWON Winner

From uncovering pedophiles on the loose to driving advocacy for a unified Gender Law across Africa, to exposing sexually abused minors abandoned to roam free, and getting arrested unwittingly, Azeezat Adedigba Armah, is a journalist on a mission to become a Media Innovation Expert in the media development space. Her ability to balance overcoming a rare health challenge (Hyperemesis Gravidarum), work demands, family life, and her career goal is a story of sheer courage, grit, audacity and love for life.
In the fast changing world of the media ecosystem and value chain where AR (augmented reality) and AI (artificial intelligence) has come to hold sway like never before, challenging journalists’ skillset, expertise, and career prospects, she is going with the tide rather than against the direction technology is mutating into. Her expansive knowledge on the solutions to the challenges the Nigeria Media faces along with the global media landscape, to proffers insightful tips on what women in media can start doing differently to become both distinctive and outstanding. To listen to her speak is like listening to the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka.
Enjoy this exciting ride with us just as we discovered the backstory of Azeezat Adedigba Armah and what makes her tick.


Was journalism the passion and career you thought you’d pursue?

My passion for journalism and the realization that it would be my career path can be traced back to my childhood, thanks to the influence of my African father, Azeez Adedigba. When I was merely six years old, my father introduced me to the world of journalism by encouraging me to listen to news broadcasts on NTA and AIT, and then write down the highlights, especially political stories. I eagerly embraced this task and made it a regular part of my routine.

Additionally, my father nurtured my interest in reading and critical thinking by purchasing weekend newspapers like Saturday Punch and Sun, which allowed me to read feature articles and solve  puzzles. This background in current affairs, coupled with the support of my primary school teachers at De-Ultimate Nursery and Primary School who encouraged me to cast news presentations every Friday and participate in literary and debating groups, further fueled my passion for journalism.

As I entered secondary school, I initially contemplated studying law due to the potential my teachers saw in me as an excellent government and literature student. However, my career trajectory took a turn during a guest lecture at the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University. Renowned actor and lecturer, Dr. Kola Oyewo popularly known as Uncle K, spoke about career choices, and his words resonated deeply with me. Just two days later, I decided to change my course from Law to Dramatic Arts at OAU, despite my friends’ surprise.

Azeezat filming a short documentary on sleep deprivation viewing the image from a camerawoman’s POV.

“Through deliberate efforts to expand my skill set, deepen my knowledge, and actively engage in collaborations, I have been able to pivot and change the course of my career. Working with HumAngle Media in 2020 contributed to pursuing my passion for immersive and multimedia journalism while contributing to media innovation and the sustainability of newsrooms, particularly in Africa.”

Although my father was initially disheartened by my decision, he acknowledged the importance of having alternative options and informed me that Mass Communication was my second choice during the JAMB (Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board) examination. Hence, I found myself studying Mass Communication at the University of Jos, with a particular interest in development communication, public relations, and advertising rather than print or broadcast journalism.

During my university years, my passion for journalism gradually intensified. Dr. Godfrey Danaan, my examination officer, ensured that I and my fellow students gained practical experience at Ice FM, UniJos. There, I collected news reports and read the news. Still, I hadn’t fully embraced journalism as my primary focus.

It wasn’t until my Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) placement at NTA Jos, where I produced and aired my first special report on pumice stone that my dedication to journalism solidified. This experience, coupled with my role in the current affairs desk during my NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) at the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo, further affirmed my passion for reporting and storytelling. The fieldwork, report packaging, and studio recordings became a fulfilling routine.

After a brief hiatus from journalism, during which I explored other job prospects in banking and advertising, my late uncle, Group Captain Afolabi Thomas, recognized my talent and dedication. He advised me to pursue journalism and recommended enrolling at the National Broadcast Academy in Ikeja, Lagos. I heeded his advice, did three-month training in journalism, completed an internship at Raypower Alagbado, and eventually moved to Abuja.

Azeezat Adedigba Armah: Media professionals should be aware of and challenge gender stereotypes, biases, and harmful representations that perpetuate inequality and discrimination.

While interning at Voice of Nigeria (VON) and gaining valuable insights and skills within the newsroom, I received encouragement from an afternoon editor, Temitope Mustapha. She expressed surprise that I was still an intern despite my prior experience, and she suggested that I inquire about the possibility of being retained or seek other job opportunities. With the intentions to return to my hometown, a friend informed me that Premium Times was recruiting, believing I was the right fit despite her dislike for journalism. I faced numerous rejections while trying to apply for jobs, with some blogs asking the number of sources I have (s wears a damning grin).

My breakthrough came when the managing editor of Premium Times, Idris Akinbajo interviewed me, saw the potential and allowed me to work under his guidance and support.

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?

The turning point in my career, where it no longer felt like just a job I showed up to, was when I joined Premium Times in 2017. It was during my time with the organization that I experienced a significant shift in perspective and realized the profound impact journalism could have on society.

Being part of Premium Times, an esteemed news outlet known for its commitment to investigative journalism and reporting on critical issues, ignited a deeper sense of purpose within me. I witnessed firsthand the power of journalism to uncover truths, hold authorities accountable, and give voice to the voiceless. This realization transformed my career from simply a job to a platform through which I could contribute to positive change. Through deliberate efforts to expand my skill set, deepen my knowledge, and actively engage in collaborations, I have been able to pivot and change the course of my career. Working with HumAngle Media in 2020 contributed to pursuing my passion for immersive and multimedia journalism while contributing to media innovation and the sustainability of newsrooms, particularly in Africa.

What were some of the struggles for you in the early stages of your career, and how did you overcome them?

During the early stages of my career, I faced several struggles that tested my resilience and determination. One significant challenge was the need to work for extended periods without compensation. This was especially true during my internship days at Raypower and Voice of Nigeria, where I did not receive any stipend for my contributions. However, during my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) period, the state and federal governments paid!

However, I persevered through those times, keeping my focus on building experience and honing my skills. The turning point came in June 2017 when I secured a position as an education reporter with Premium Times, where I received my first salary and transport allowance. This milestone provided a much-needed sense of financial stability and motivated me to continue pursuing my passion for journalism. Securing a paid position, obtaining grants, building a supportive network, and prioritizing continuous learning were key factors in overcoming these obstacles and paving the way for future success in my journalism career.

Also, my arrest remained a shock to me (laughs). I was scared, but I had all the support I needed.

Tell us about that!

So, this is one story I don’t like narrating????! (we both laughed and became serious at the same time because we understand why). In August 2018, on a partly cloudy Saturday, I received a phone call from a police superintendent named Emmanuel Onyeneho. Unfortunately, the call brought distressing news that ruined her weekend. Officer Onyeneho said I was under investigation for criminal offences. Concerned about the situation, I promptly informed the management at PREMIUM TIMES, where I worked as a reporter.

I and the publisher of People’s Gazette, who were colleagues at PREMIUM TIMES, regularly discuss on the phone about work and our personal lives. However, we were unaware that these conversations were being recorded and could be used by the Nigerian state.

In response to the allegations, I requested a formal invitation from Officer Onyeneho, specifically asking for it to be written on police letterhead. The invitation arrived on August 13, 2018, accusing me of criminal conspiracy, cybercrime, attempted kidnapping, and fraud. The letter instructed me to present myself at the force headquarters on August 14 of that year.

Accompanied by her Editor-In-Chief, Musikilu Mojeed, I honoured the police invitation. However, upon arrival, a fully armed police officer forcefully confiscated my phone and I was detained for four hours, an extremely distressing experience that tortured me psychologically.

Subsequently, the security operatives instructed me to call Ogundipe, who was later arrested for refusing to disclose the source of a story Ogundipe was later released on bail.

That definitely tops why Press Freedom in Nigeria will always continue to be on the front burner. But just as a follow-up, do you still have any current challenges you’re trying to overcome?

Challenges are an inevitable part of life, and as I continue my journey, I am currently facing a few that I am working to overcome. One of my ongoing challenges involves completing my master’s program in visual journalism and storytelling at the University of Bolton. Balancing the demands of academic coursework, research, and practical projects requires dedication, time management, and a strong commitment to achieving my educational goals. However, I am determined to persevere and complete the program.

In addition to my academic pursuits, I am also focused on addressing the challenges surrounding media innovation and newsroom sustainability in Africa, which remains a prominent area of interest for me. These challenges encompass navigating the evolving media landscape, integrating new technologies, and promoting viable and resilient business models for news organizations. By actively engaging with industry professionals, conducting research, and seeking opportunities to contribute to the discourse, I am dedicated to finding innovative solutions to enhance the sustainability and effectiveness of African newsrooms.

To overcome these challenges, I am employing various strategies. Firstly, I prioritize effective time management and organization, ensuring that I allocate sufficient time for my studies, research, and personal development. This allows me to maintain a balance and stay on track with my academic goals.

Azeezat filming a short  documentary on sleep deprivation

What are some of the barriers you think has prevented you from hitting the career target you’ve set for yourself?

While I have not encountered many barriers in my career journey thus far, one significant setback I faced was Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). Experiencing HG during the year 2021 put my career on hold as I battled severe symptoms and practically lived in the hospital. It was a challenging period, and after childbirth, the lingering effects persisted. I had to rely on medications, including 40mg omeprazole and intravenous painkillers every three days until I embarked  on my Master’s last year. Despite the difficulties, I am currently in the process of recovery.

To overcome this setback, I am determined to utilize my experience with Hyperemesis Gravidarum to raise awareness and sensitize women about this condition, particularly in Africa. I believe it is crucial to educate and provide support to women who may face similar challenges. By sharing my story and insights, I hope to shed light on the impact of HG and advocate for better understanding, resources, and care for affected individuals.

Recovery from this health condition is of utmost importance to me. By taking proactive steps, such as following medical advice, adopting healthy lifestyle choices, and seeking support from healthcare professionals, I am working towards reclaiming my physical well-being and ensuring long-term wellness.

Furthermore, I am committed to resuming and advancing my career after overcoming this setback. I plan to focus on my continued professional growth, leveraging my academic pursuits and practical experiences to make a significant impact in the field of journalism. By staying updated with industry trends, engaging in relevant training and development opportunities, and actively seeking out collaborations and projects aligned with my passions, I aim to regain momentum and contribute meaningfully to my chosen field.

I know women in journalism’s health in the Nigeria Media Space feels more like a taboo unspoken, yet in the wake of how mentally stressful and demanding journalism is, I would like you to enlighten us more about Hyperemesis Gravidarum.

In late 2020, I became pregnant and started experiencing pregnancy symptoms, including extreme vomiting. I would vomit until I saw blood and feel so weak that I would sit on the bathroom floor until my husband returned from work. Due to my weakness, I had to receive drips, promethazine, and B complex on a weekly basis. It felt like we were living in the hospital. By the 28th week, my baby weighed less than 1kg, and I was scared of a low birth weight. I also worried about the potential impact of not taking medications, as people would often say that my child might not be normal.

I spent months crying and was anxious about any possible deformities. However, when I had a cesarean operation, the doctor congratulated me, and my immediate concern was whether there were any deformities. Thankfully, there were none. I had a wonderful support system throughout this challenging time. The publisher of Premium Times , Dapo Olorunyomi, supported me all through , and the publisher of HumAngle Ahmad Salkida was incredibly supportive, and HumAngle provided a safe space for women. The Centre Director at WSCIJ, Motunrayo Alaka, would call me weekly to inquire about my progress and test results. My mentors, Mrs. Nneka Okekarau, Lekan Otufodunrin, and Rotimi Sankore were always checking up on me as well. The list of supportive individuals is endless, as I had a strong support system.

Azeezat Adedigba Armah, Winner, WSCIJ’s REWON: One of the highlights of my career was winning the overall prize in the WSCIJ FLRP program in 2019 for my story on climate issues and reproductive health. This recognition affirmed the importance of addressing the intersection of these two critical subjects. Witnessing the impact of the story, as it contributed to increased awareness and action on climate change and reproductive health, was truly gratifying.

I want to emphasise that Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), the extreme vomiting condition I experienced, is not genetic. It’s possible to have it in one pregnancy but not in another, or vice versa. Someday, I hope to write about my experience with HG and share it with others.

Any other challenges you plan to overcome them? If so, why is it important for you to overcome them?

As I navigate my journey, I understand the importance of taking things one step at a time, free from the pressures of competition. I firmly believe that God has a perfect timing for all things and that true beauty emerges when His plans unfold. My focus lies in making an impact within my sphere, recognizing that fulfilment does not come from seeking global recognition. Rather, it stems from the difference I make in the lives of those I mentor and the individuals God brings my way.

With the guidance and assistance of God, I have already begun taking significant strides towards achieving my goals. I am currently mentoring individuals who look up to me, providing them with guidance and support to help them grow both personally and professionally. Additionally, I have been lending a helping hand to colleagues by assisting them with their project proposals, fostering a collaborative environment where we can all succeed together.

Furthermore, I am actively building my portfolio by engaging in various projects that showcase my skills and expertise. For instance, I had the opportunity to create a social media package for Bolton Wanderers in the community, highlighting their initiatives and engaging with their audience. I also produced a documentary centred around an independent model, delving into their journey and capturing their unique story. Additionally, I developed a multimedia platform to present a human angle story on sleep deprivation, aiming to raise awareness .

Moving forward, I plan to continue taking one step at a time, steadily progressing towards my goals. Overcoming any challenges that come my way will require perseverance, resilience, and a strong belief in myself and my abilities. I need to overcome these obstacles because I am deeply passionate about immersive journalism and making a meaningful impact through it. By overcoming challenges, I can further develop my skills, expand my reach, and inspire others through the knowledge and experiences I share.

Ultimately, my journey is not solely about personal achievement, but about uplifting others and contributing to the field of  journalism. 

What are some of the stories or projects you’ve done that was the most impacful in the course of your career?

Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work on numerous impactful stories and projects that have left a lasting impression. One particularly significant series was the financial inclusion stories on women, which I wrote during my time at PT. The stories garnered commendation from my editor and even caught the attention of the Bills & Melinda Gates Foundation, who expressed their satisfaction with the work. The impact was evident as I received numerous calls and inquiries, including one from a leadership school in Egypt seeking further insights on the report. 

https://www.premiumtimesng.com/investigationspecial-reports/336321-special-report-abuja-communities-where-women-farmers-are-unbanked.html?tztc=1

Additionally, my coverage of pressing issues such as out-of-school children and school feeding programs resonated deeply with audiences. By shedding light on these crucial topics, I was able to raise awareness and facilitate discussions around the importance of education and adequate nutrition for children. Witnessing the impact of these stories was truly rewarding, as they sparked conversations and influenced positive change.

https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/331780-as-nigeria-marks-another-childrens-day-millions-of-out-of-school-kids-still-roam-streets.html
https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/353156-sbmc-inside-story-of-nigerias-scheme-to-reduce-out-of-school-children-in-kano.html
https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/334089-non-implementation-of-buharis-programme-in-abuja-keeps-thousands-of-children-out-of-school.html

Another area where I also focus is reporting  sexual and gender-based violence. These stories, while challenging to cover, are essential in exposing the realities faced by survivors and addressing the need for justice. It is heartening to hear when offenders are held accountable and sentenced, as it signifies progress and brings a sense of satisfaction knowing that justice is being served.

One of the highlights of my career was winning the overall prize in the WSCIJ FLRP program in 2019 for my story on climate issues and reproductive health. This recognition affirmed the importance of addressing the intersection of these two critical subjects. Witnessing the impact of the story, as it contributed to increased awareness and action on climate change and reproductive health, was truly gratifying.

https://www.premiumtimesng.com/regional/north-central/359872-despite-health-risks-firewood-use-still-thrives-in-nigerian-communities.html

Overall, each of these stories and projects holds a special place in my heart, as they have made a tangible impact on individuals, communities, and society as a whole. They have reinforced my passion for journalism and the power it holds to bring about positive change. Seeing the real-world consequences of my work drives me to continue pursuing impactful stories and projects throughout my career.

What career projection are you setting up for yourself you intend to meet up?

I am passionate about building a career as a trainer specializing in immersive and multimedia journalism, which I extensively studied during my postgraduate program at the University of Bolton in the United Kingdom. As mentioned before, my specific focus lies in media innovation and promoting the sustainability of newsrooms across Africa.

With this in mind, I am actively setting up a career projection that aligns with my aspirations. Firstly, I aim to establish myself as a recognized expert in the field of immersive and multimedia journalism. This involves continuously expanding my knowledge and skills through ongoing learning, attending relevant workshops and conferences, and staying updated on the latest industry trends and technological advancements.

Simultaneously, I plan to cultivate strong connections within the journalism and media industry, both locally and internationally. By networking with professionals, organizations, and institutions that share my passion for media innovation and sustainability, I can foster collaborations and partnerships that will further enhance my career trajectory.

In terms of practical steps, I intend to pursue opportunities to share my expertise as a trainer and educator. This includes conducting workshops, seminars, and training programs focused on immersive and multimedia journalism. By imparting my knowledge and skills to aspiring journalists, media professionals, and newsroom teams, I can contribute to the development and advancement of the field while also nurturing the next generation of storytellers.

Furthermore, I plan to actively engage with newsrooms across Africa, offering consulting services and support in embracing media innovation and sustainability practices. This involves working closely with organizations to develop strategies that leverage emerging technologies, optimize workflows, and enhance audience engagement. By helping newsrooms adapt and thrive in the ever-evolving media landscape, I can contribute to the long-term success and resilience of journalism in Africa.

Overall, my career projection revolves around becoming a respected trainer in immersive and multimedia journalism, with a particular emphasis on media innovation and the sustainability of newsrooms in Africa. 

What training programmes or short courses have you attended, which you applied on the job that made the most impact for you? 

Wow, I have attended countless trainings, and I applied all in my reports. To list a few: Design, Layout, Data visualisation in the block chain and web 3 sector (Deftify, 2021- ); Participant, Gender Reporting for Media Professionals (TechHERNG, Ford Foundation), 2020: Participant, Amnesty International Training and Workshop on Social Justice Human Rights Violation, 2019: Participant, United States Embassy Training on Reporting Migration, 2019; Participant, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism Training on Investigative Journalism and Data Reporting (2017 and 2018): Participant, Open Contracting Reporting Project: (MacArthur Foundation and International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), June 2018); ActionAid Training on African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, 2018; Participant, Premium Times in-house trainings and seminars, 2017 till date. Lastly, Participant, Investigative Journalism training by Tiger Eye Centre for investigative journalism.

Azeezat Adetigba Armah: Media Organisation in Nigeria needs to have more equitable remuneration structure, comprehensive insurance coverage, and hazard allowances, which are essential in fostering a fair and supportive environment for journalists. It is disheartening to hear that some of our colleagues have not received payment for three years, and it raises concerns about their well-being and livelihoods. PC: AGA Armah.

Azeezat Adetigba Armah: I plan to actively engage with newsrooms across Africa, offering consulting services and support in embracing media innovation and sustainability practices. This involves working closely with organizations to develop strategies that leverage emerging technologies, optimize workflows, and enhance audience engagement. By helping newsrooms adapt and thrive in the ever-evolving media landscape, I can contribute to the long-term success and resilience of journalism in Africa.

What suggestions will you give media owners or heads of media business to help boost morale, effectiveness, and reduce toxicity in the workplace?

Media owners should prioritize emotional stability, financial stability, and the insurance of staff. With that, you can go all the way to be professional and not compromise in trying to be objective. Salary payment, training on how to get grants to sustain as a journalist. Let your reporter shine!

If you were to reimagine your career, what would you do differently, starting today?

(She laugs gloriously!) If I were to reimagine my career, there are a few things I would do differently, starting today. Firstly, I would focus on learning how to leverage journalism to generate more income. It is important to recognize that financial stability is crucial for sustaining a successful career in this field. By exploring various avenues such as freelance opportunities or diversifying my skills to offer additional services, I could potentially increase my earning potential while still maintaining journalistic integrity.

Additionally, I would prioritize acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively pitch for grants and funding opportunities. Understanding the art of crafting compelling proposals and presenting them to potential sponsors early on would provide me with a competitive advantage. This proactive approach would enable me to secure the necessary resources to pursue meaningful stories and projects, ultimately expanding my impact as a journalist.

Moreover, I would actively seek out mentorship and networking opportunities within the journalism industry. Connecting with experienced professionals who have successfully navigated the financial aspects of journalism can offer invaluable guidance and insights. Building relationships with like-minded individuals and organizations could open doors to collaborations, partnerships, and new avenues for income generation.

Lastly, I would continuously invest in my personal and professional development. By staying up-to-date with emerging technologies, evolving storytelling techniques, and industry trends, I would remain adaptable and relevant in a rapidly changing media landscape. This continuous learning mindset would enhance my skill set, expand my opportunities, and help me stay ahead in an increasingly competitive field.

How would you describe the media landscape and the disruptions that will affect the role of Women and Men in the media industry?

The media landscape in Africa is undergoing significant transformations and disruptions that will impact the role of women and men in the industry. 

The disruptions in the media landscape in Africa, driven by digital transformation, shifting consumption patterns, and democratization of information, have the potential to create more opportunities for women in media. However, gender inequalities, stereotypes, safety concerns, and economic challenges need to be addressed to ensure that women can fully participate and thrive in the evolving media industry.

Here are some key aspects to consider:

Digital Transformation: Increasing internet penetration: The expansion of internet access across Africa has led to the rise of digital media platforms, offering new opportunities for content creation, distribution, and engagement.

  • Social media and citizen journalism: Social media platforms have provided avenues for individuals, including women, to participate in journalism and share their stories directly with audiences, bypassing traditional gatekeepers.
  • Need for digital skills: The digital transformation requires media professionals to adapt to new technologies, platforms, and tools. Both women and men need to acquire digital literacy and skills to effectively navigate the changing media landscape.

Shifting Media Consumption Patterns:

  • Rise of mobile and online media: Mobile phones are the primary devices for accessing information in many African countries. Online media consumption, including video streaming and social media, is increasingly popular, shaping content creation and distribution.
  • Opportunities for niche media: Digital platforms allow for the creation of specialized content that caters to specific audiences and interests. This creates opportunities for women to address underrepresented topics and connect with niche communities.

Democratization of Information:

  • Citizen journalism and activism: Social media platforms have facilitated citizen journalism and activism, allowing individuals, including women, to report on and advocate for issues they care about. This has the potential to challenge traditional media narratives and provide diverse perspectives.
  • Increased access to information: The internet and digital platforms have expanded access to information and diverse voices, enabling women to have a greater impact in shaping public discourse and challenging power structures.

Gender Inequality and Stereotyping:

  • Underrepresentation of women: Women continue to be underrepresented in key decision-making positions and face challenges in accessing leadership roles in media organizations. This gender imbalance affects the diversity of perspectives and influences the narratives that are produced and consumed.
  • Gender stereotypes: Gender stereotypes persist in media content, with women often portrayed in limited and stereotypical roles. This reinforces societal biases and hampers progress towards gender equality.

Safety and Harassment:

  • Online harassment: Women in media, especially those active on digital platforms, are vulnerable to online harassment and abuse. This can lead to self-censorship and limit women’s participation in online spaces.
  • Physical safety: Journalists, including women, face risks to their physical safety while reporting on sensitive issues or in conflict areas. Ensuring the safety and security of media professionals, particularly women, is crucial for their participation and well-being.

Entrepreneurship and Sustainability:

  • Opportunities for self-publishing: Digital platforms offer opportunities for women to create and distribute their content independently, bypassing traditional media structures. This can empower women to have more control over their narratives and financial sustainability.
  • Economic challenges: Media sustainability remains a significant challenge, with limited funding and revenue models. Addressing these economic barriers is crucial for ensuring women’s participation and equal opportunities in the industry.

Azeezat is transported to another world with the @storyrailproject, an immersive storytelling project that showcases historic and untold stories from the past using augmented reality and virtual reality. At the Sheffield Library in Bolton, UK, her tutor explained to her how AR and VR worked on a particular project. PC: AGA Armah.

How and what can women in media begin to do differently and better to hold their own space within the media industry?

Hmmm (she pauses). Here are some suggestions on how women can do things differently and better. I will start with:

Empowerment and Support:

  • Create networks and support systems: Women in media can establish professional networks, mentorship programs, and support groups to share experiences, knowledge, and resources. This will help foster a sense of solidarity and empowerment.
  • Mentorship and sponsorship: Established women in media can mentor and sponsor younger women, providing guidance, support, and opportunities for growth and advancement.

Amplify Voices:

  • Promote diverse representation: Women in media should actively seek out diverse voices and stories, particularly African women, and ensure they are given space and platforms to be heard.
  • Challenge stereotypes: Media professionals should be aware of and challenge gender stereotypes, biases, and harmful representations that perpetuate inequality and discrimination.

Skills and Training:

  • Enhance professional skills: Women in media can continuously develop and enhance their skills through training, workshops, and educational opportunities. This will enable them to be more competitive in the industry and have the confidence to excel.
  • Digital literacy: With the rise of digital media, women should focus on acquiring digital skills to effectively navigate the evolving media landscape and engage with online audiences.

Negotiation and Advocacy:

  • Assertive negotiation: Women should be proactive in negotiating fair salaries, benefits, and working conditions. Developing negotiation skills can help bridge the gender pay gap and improve overall working conditions for women in media.
  • Advocate for inclusive policies: Women in media should actively advocate for gender-sensitive policies and practices within media organizations. This includes policies related to equal pay, parental leave, flexible working arrangements, and protection against harassment and discrimination.
  • Collaboration and Partnerships:
  • Collaborate across media organizations: Women in media should foster collaboration and partnership between different media outlets, sharing resources, ideas, and best practices. This can strengthen their collective impact and amplify their voices.
  • Engage more with civil society organizations: Collaborating with civil society organizations focused on gender equality and women’s rights can help raise awareness about women’s issues and create platforms for dialogue and change.

Safety and Well-being:

  • Safety protocols: Women in media should advocate for and implement safety protocols to protect journalists, particularly women, from physical, verbal, and online harassment, ensuring their physical and mental well-being.
  • Support mental health: Prioritizing mental health and self-care is crucial. Women in media should actively support one another and promote workplace environments that foster well-being.

Documentation and Research:

  • Research and data collection: Conduct research and collect data on the experiences and challenges faced by African women in journalism. This will provide evidence to inform advocacy efforts and policy changes and should be reported in the media 
  • Document success stories: Highlight and celebrate the achievements of African women in journalism to inspire future generations and counter negative narratives.

Tell us about some of your accomplishments that makes find fulfilment and continuea to inspire you to do more?

To me, the true achievement lies in telling the stories that need to be heard, as it grants a voice to those who have long been unheard. It is immensely fulfilling to provide a platform for individuals and communities, allowing their narratives to reach a wider audience. This sense of accomplishment stems from the realization that I am making a meaningful impact by shedding light on important issues and giving a voice to the marginalized.

Azeezat Adedigba Armah: Gender inequality and stereotyping is a leading cause of the underrepresentation of women. Women continue to be underrepresented in key decision-making positions and face challenges in accessing leadership roles in media organizations. This gender imbalance affects the diversity of perspectives and influences the narratives that are produced and consumed. PC: AGA Armah

Rather than measuring success solely by financial rewards or recognition which is also important, my focus remains on the inherent value of storytelling and its ability to create positive change. By amplifying the voices of those who are often silenced, I contribute to a more inclusive and just society. Ensuring their stories are told with integrity, empathy, and accuracy is a responsibility I hold dear, and I strive to uphold the principles of ethical journalism throughout my work.

By recognizing the significance of storytelling itself as a powerful tool for social progress, I find fulfillment in the impact it has on individuals and communities. The stories I tell become catalysts for awareness, understanding, and dialogue, fostering empathy and inspiring others to take action. Ultimately, the accomplishment lies in empowering others and making a difference through the stories I have the privilege to share.

What tips in personal development, career pursuit, network strategies, and wealth creation would you advise other women in media, including men, to tap into?

To thrive in the media industry, here are some tips for personal development, career pursuit, network strategies, and wealth creation that women and men in media can tap into:

Personal Development:

  • To continuously seek personal growth by adopting a mindset of lifelong learning. Stay updated with industry trends, technologies, and best practices through workshops, conferences, and online courses. Engage in self-reflection to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. Actively pursue personal and professional growth by seeking feedback, embracing challenges, and developing new skills.

Career Pursuit:

  • Set clear goals for your career and create a roadmap to achieve them. Define specific and measurable objectives that align with your aspirations. Seek mentorship and guidance from experienced professionals who can provide insights, advice, and support. Take calculated risks, seize opportunities, and be proactive in seeking career advancements.

Network Strategies:

  • Build a diverse network by connecting with professionals from different industries, backgrounds, and expertise. Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and engage in online communities to expand your network. Foster authentic relationships by actively listening, offering support, and providing value to others. Collaborate with peers, seek mentorship, and participate in knowledge-sharing activities.

Wealth Creation:

  • Develop financial literacy to make informed decisions about budgeting, saving, and investing. Educate yourself on personal finance, investment strategies, and wealth management. Consider exploring entrepreneurial ventures within the media industry, leveraging digital platforms and emerging trends. Identify opportunities to create and monetize your content, products, or services. For example, I made my first six figure as a social media manager of a web3 platform.
  • Also, it is crucial to promote gender equality and inclusivity, ensuring that women and men have equal access to personal development, career opportunities, networking, and wealth creation strategies. Supporting each other and fostering an inclusive environment will contribute to the success and growth of everyone in the media industry.

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 find it challenging to achieve a perfect balance, but I strive to be highly effective. While I am at work, I make every effort to be productive and efficient. However, once I return home, I prioritize spending quality time with my daughter, unless she is asleep. I am grateful to have a wonderful and supportive husband who understands and encourages me in all aspects of life (she winks like young a fianceè who just got popped the question).

Tell us something about the Nigeria media industry you would like to see change for the better?

And why is this change important?

A more equitable remuneration structure, comprehensive insurance coverage, and hazard allowances are essential in fostering a fair and supportive environment for journalists. It is disheartening to hear that some of our colleagues have not received payment for three years, and it raises concerns about their well-being and livelihoods.

Surviving under such circumstances can be incredibly challenging, and it speaks to the resilience and dedication of those journalists. They may be relying on personal savings, seeking assistance from family and friends, or taking on additional work outside of journalism to make ends meet. Such situations highlight the urgent need for industry-wide reforms to ensure journalists are compensated fairly and timely for their important work.

Azeezat Adedigba Armah: My breakthrough came when the managing editor of Premium Times, Idris Akinbajo interviewed me, saw the potential and allowed me to work under his guidance and support. PC: AGA Armah.

Journalism, indeed, is a noble profession that plays a crucial role in providing unbiased information and shaping public opinion. It is crucial that financial concerns do not compromise the integrity and objectivity of the stories being told. Journalists should be able to focus on their work without the burden of financial pressures, enabling them to report stories truthfully and without bias.

Advocating for improved remuneration structures, adequate insurance coverage, and fair hazard allowances is essential to support journalists and uphold the principles of ethical journalism. By addressing these issues, we can create an environment where journalists can pursue their noble profession with dedication and integrity, independent of financial constraints.

In the next 3-5 years, where do you see yourself?

Media Innovation and Development Expert 

What is your current role and responsibilities you handle.

I am currently building my portfolio while studying.

How do you think the Nigerian media can up its ante to compete more favourable with international media organisations?

Improve Professionalism. Nigerian media organizations should prioritize professionalism, ethical standards, and accuracy in their reporting. This includes thorough fact-checking, unbiased reporting, and a commitment to journalistic integrity, which a lot of media organizations are doing

Two, they need to embrace technology and innovation. Technology plays a crucial role in the modern media landscape. Nigerian media organizations should invest in state-of-the-art equipment, digital platforms, and online presence to reach a wider audience. This includes developing user-friendly websites and mobile apps and engaging with social media platforms. Embracing new technologies can enhance content delivery, interactivity, and user experience. HumAngle has an immersive, multimedia, and podcast studio,The Cable just launched Nigeria’s first disability-inclusive news app (DINA), and Premium Times also have a multimedia and podcast studio. We also need more media houses investing in these.

Azeez: I love what I do.

The Nigeria Media needs to expand its international coverage beyond local news. By having dedicated international correspondents and partnerships with international news agencies, they can provide in-depth coverage of global events and issues that are of relevance to their audience. This will help broaden the perspective of Nigerian media and attract a more diverse readership. Most broadcast stations are doing this and Chiamaka Okafor of Premium Times doesn’t miss any foreign-related stories and we need more of this.

They really need to Foster Investigative Journalism. Encouraging and supporting investigative journalism can set Nigerian media apart from international competitors. Investigative reporting exposes corruption, holds individuals and institutions accountable, and uncovers important stories that might otherwise go unnoticed. By dedicating resources to investigative journalism, media organizations can contribute to societal development and earn a reputation for producing impactful, in-depth reporting.

Enhancing training and development is also crucial. Continuous professional development for journalists and media practitioners is essential. Nigerian media organizations should invest in training programs, workshops, and conferences to upgrade the skills of their staff. This includes training on journalistic ethics, digital tools, multimedia storytelling, data journalism, and other relevant areas. Well-trained journalists can produce high-quality content that can compete with international standards.

They need to collaborate with International Partners. Building partnerships and collaborations with international media organizations can bring mutual benefits. Nigerian media can leverage these partnerships to exchange content, share resources, and gain exposure in the global media arena. Collaborative efforts can lead to joint investigations, co-production of documentaries, and sharing of expertise, enhancing the quality and reach of Nigerian media.

There is a need to focus on more local stories. While expanding international coverage is important, Nigerian media should also focus on local stories and issues that resonate with their audience. By highlighting local perspectives, culture, and voices, they can provide unique and relevant content that international media might overlook. This can foster a strong connection with the local audience and differentiate Nigerian media from their global counterparts.

Azeezat Adedigba Armah to Women in Media: Develop financial literacy to make informed decisions about budgeting, saving, and investing. Educate yourself on personal finance, investment strategies, and wealth management. Consider exploring entrepreneurial ventures within the media industry, leveraging digital platforms and emerging trends. Identify opportunities to create and monetize your content, products, or services. For example, I made my first six figure as a social media manager of a web3 platform.

Written by ERU.

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