We were very excited to see you emerge as one of the fellows of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative REWON Programme. Walk us through the journey of how you got to be part of the Report Women Female Leadership Programme.
Thank you so much. I saw the call for applications, read the programme objectives and knew I wanted to be a part of it. I applied and I was chosen as one of the twelve (12) cohorts for the programme.
The turning point for me was during the one week orientation and training where for the first time, I began to see the need to improve news coverage about women, with more emphasis on their achievements.
I have always loved documentaries and investigative reports, so I began equipping myself with the necessary skills needed to execute such stories.
In 2022, a routine news coverage of a protest would metamorphose into an investigative story that lasted for five months.
The report investigated alleged attempts by the Lagos State government to grab the land of a vulnerable group of fishermen living in a remote location in Makoko, Lagos where they are denied basic amenities and still threatened with a loss of their houses.
The report titled Policies and the people: How the Lagos state government’s mega city drive is worsening its housing deficit” gained recognition at the 2022 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, coming second place in the Online Category.
Folashade Ogunrinde and the camera crew (Ope and Gbenga) at the Makoko waterfront community during her investigative story titled Policies and the People: How the Lagos State Govt’s mega city drive is worsening its housing deficits.
Ogunrinde: “I wish I had more mentorship early on in my career. I had to learn almost everything I know on my own. So I can say that my journalism journey would have been a lot easier if I had someone to guide me.”
In 2023, I emerged second runner up for my story and leadership project at the Report Women Female Reports Leadership Programme organized by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ).
Part of the conditions for becoming a fellow is to successfully undertake a leadership and story project. Thankfully, I was able to execute mine successfully and here we are.
What are the surprising ideas or thought patterns that shifted for you?
I had always known that women were under-represented in terms of news reportage, but for the first time, I came face to face with the statistics and the sad realities around it. That stirred in me the consciousness to become deliberate in my news reportage. I began to consciously seek out women as experts, and work on women centred stories.
What was your story and project idea on, and what was the outcome?
My story project was on #JusticeforBamishe: How Lawyers’ absence, slack guidelines, courts’ apathy frustrate families’ demand for justice.
The investigative report took a detailed look at the gruesome murder of three young Nigerian women, Bamishe Ayanwola, Deborah Samuel and Uwaila Omozuwa between the year 2020 and 2022, which would form some of the country’s biggest profile of sexual and gender based violence.
While the nature of their murders and geographical locations are distinct, the sad reality of Nigeria’s slow justice system, non-adherence to the laws that seek to serve speedy justice and indifference of those who should enforce these laws, would be the common denominator of the family and loved ones they left behind.
The investigative report brought to fore the lapses in Nigeria’s justice system that promotes delayed justice, the pain the families and loved ones of the deceased experience in their quest for justice, as well as the players in the justice system who perpetuate delayed justice.
The report has emboldened the family of the late Bamishe Ayanwola to demand redress against Abayomi Omotubora, the defence counsel to the alleged killer Andrew Nice. It has also encouraged many civil society groups to push for a review of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State 2015 for more accountability in the judicial system.
Folashade Ogunrinde on the field interviewing Segun Ajayi-Kadir, Director General/CEO Manufacturers Association of Nigeria in 2022.
For my leadership project, eleven entry-level journalists were trained on gender reporting. They were also exposed to numerous opportunities in journalism especially for women.
What were your expectations about the fellowship and were they met?
I wanted to understand how I can report women better. I was also eager to learn about strategies that will equip me to be a better leader in my newsroom. I must say that I wasn’t disappointed in any way, as all my expectations were met.
Tell us about your cash award. What was it for?
For coming third place, I got a cash prize of N100,000, a high end laptop and a plaque. The prize is certainly meant to serve as a form of encouragement and reward for a job well done.
What do you intend to focus on and do differently in your career following this fellowship?
I intend to use my story telling ability to highlight issues about women in Nigeria and Africa. However, the project will place more emphasis on their achievements. The aim is to raise awareness about women and the issues they face, celebrate their achievements and increase the number of reports on women in the digital space.
Which other fellows’ story idea and project inspired you also, and why?
It will be very difficult to pick just one, because all the investigative reports touched core areas. All the story projects inspired me, really.
How did your media career begin?
I have always known I would be a journalist, so I studied mass communication at Adekunle Ajasin University, Ondo State, and graduated top five in my class.
During my service year in 2014, I worked part-time at the Ebonyi State Broadcasting Corporation, EBBC. From there, I worked as a producer and presenter for a couple of independent production firms.
Between 2017 and 2019, I was the Channel Manager for the Health and food channels at Kaftan Television before moving to Impact Africa Television, IATV. After that, I worked as a senior correspondent and presenter at TV360 Nigeria, before assuming the role of an editor between 2021 and 2023.
Ogunride: “My investigative report brought to fore the lapses in Nigeria’s justice system that promotes delayed justice, the pain the families and loved ones of the deceased experience in their quest for justice, as well as the players in the justice system who perpetuate delayed justice.”
At what point did your career move from just being a job to a passion?
For me, journalism has never been a side job. It’s a job I love simply because of the kind of impact we make. So despite the challenges, I’ve stuck to the profession.
What kind of support do women need in this industry that you think is lacking but required?
The Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, led by Mrs. Motunrayo Alaka has done so much in the past five years through the Female Reporters Leadership Programme, in creating a community of female journalists who serve as support base for one another. But I wish we have more projects like this, in order to ensure that no one is left behind.
If you were to rethink or do differently how you pursued your career, what would you do?
I wish I had more mentorship early on in my career. I had to learn almost everything I know on my own. So I can say that my journalism journey would have been a lot easier if I had someone to guide me.
To aspiring, young and upcoming journos in the media amd broadcast, what advice and tips would you like to share with them they’ll help them excel in this space you wished you knew?
There are so many resources online for anyone who wishes to improve his or her technical know-how. Beyond your newsroom, explore materials that would make you better on the job such as tutorials on effective storytelling, presentation etc.
Ogunrinde: “You’ll come across people who would try to make you doubt your ability, but never permit that. For me, journalism has never been a side job. It’s a job I love simply because of the kind of impact we make. So despite the challenges, I’ve stuck to the profession.“
Another tip is to seek out mentors. You may not get a favourable response every time, but keep trying.
You must also believe in yourself. You’ll come across people who would try to make you doubt your ability, but never permit that.
Another important advice especially for young reporters is to always ensure that your reports are well researched and well written, that way, you will be noticed when an opportunity comes your way. It is why I’m now driven to hopefully launch my media company, Morning Star Media.