Friday, April 12, 2024
Ignite the mind.


Women in Media Leadership: How personal branding, managing office politics, mentorship, seizing opportunities and pursuing your goals unflinchingly leads to more rewards and success – Mercy Abang

When Mercy Abang speaks, you listen. As a matter of fact, you naturally zone into her with a 360-degree focus. She’s an outstanding firebrand in journalism and a powerful storyteller. We go all the way to Berlin, Germany, in this inspiring journey with her in her leadership role for our Special LightRay! 100 Women in Media Leadership Policy drive, supported by Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, #ReportWomen and Gates Foundation, Abang gives deep insights on how to seize opportunities, manage office politics no matter where you find yourself; how to develop your mental health awareness skills, become more astute in the business of media and how using marketing and promotional skillset in selling your brand is a powerful way to get your foot in the door for more career growth, breakthroughs, and success stories. To enjoy this exclusive interview, turn out all distractions and focus on every line you read. You’ll be glad you did. That’s the magic of Abang!


Let’s start of with this: as you may be aware of, the digital space is the new currency for the media these days. How significant is this shift at this time in your career? And why do you think tech, AI, and digital skills are essential for a journalist?

In the ever-evolving media realm, the transition to the digital sphere is an absolute imperative. It’s a transformation driven by the shifting habits of our audiences, who now predominantly seek their news and information through digital conduits—be it websites, social media platforms, podcasts, or mobile apps. This isn’t merely a passing trend; it’s a profound shift underpinned by the allure of convenience, unfettered accessibility, and the promise of real-time updates.

However, the significance of this transition extends far beyond convenience. It’s about unfettered access to a global audience, allowing journalists to share their stories with an unprecedented reach. This digital shift empowers journalists to exert a broader impact and influence, transcending geographical boundaries.

But the allure of the digital frontier doesn’t stop at reach alone. It’s a canvas for converging diverse media formats, weaving text, images, videos, and interactive graphics into a tapestry of storytelling possibilities. According to a revelatory study by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, a new generation of young news consumers has emerged, preferring platforms like TikTok and emerging media channels. Can we afford to overlook this burgeoning audience?

Crucially, this digital metamorphosis underscores the necessity of tech and digital skills in journalism. These competencies are the bedrock for data-driven journalism, enabling journalists to sift through vast datasets, uncover hidden trends, and present their findings through compelling narratives.

Yet, it doesn’t end there. The digital realm beckons with the promise of unparalleled audience engagement. Journalists can forge direct connections with their audience through social media and many digital tools, inviting feedback and cultivating a loyal following. This dynamic engagement serves not only to enrich reporting but also to cultivate a profound understanding of audience interests and needs.

The most pivotal aspect of this digital revolution is its opportunity for revenue generation. Digital platforms offer various monetization avenues, from advertising and subscriptions to crowdfunding. For journalists and media organizations, mastering digital marketing and understanding intricate revenue models is now optional but essential to sustain their vital work.

The shift to the digital space is not merely a preference; it’s a necessity. It aligns perfectly with consumers’ evolving tastes, amplifies global outreach, fuels multimedia storytelling, champions data-driven journalism, embraces real-time reporting, encourages robust audience interaction, and unlocks an array of revenue streams. In this dynamic and fiercely competitive industry, tech, AI, and digital skills have become indispensable instruments for journalists. They elevate the quality of journalism and serve as pathways to expanding career horizons for those who can adeptly navigate the digital landscape. In essence, they are the compass guiding the way forward in the media world of tomorrow.

“The delicate balance between work and life often leans disproportionately upon women. Embracing flexible work arrangements, be it through remote work options or part-time roles, empowers women to harmonize their professional aspirations with familial responsibilities. Flexibility isn’t merely a perk; it’s an essential tool for retaining the industry’s most brilliant female talents.” – Mercy Abang.

You’ve been working in the media and development space for a while now, was this a conscious decision? Or what led you to choose to work in that space?

It’s been quite a transition. I initially started as a journalist, covering various beats and filing daily reports. Later, I specialized as a political correspondent, primarily working in television journalism. However, I also ventured into freelance work for international media organizations.

As for how I ended up in media development, it’s the culmination of my various roles and experiences in the field. At a certain point in my career, I began to feel a desire to move beyond everyday storytelling and traditional newsroom operations. Entrepreneurship had always piqued my interest, and I saw an opportunity to apply my skills in a familiar terrain.

This led me to pursue an MBA, which has ultimately brought me to my current position in media development. So, if you’re asking whether I initially set out to work in media development, I’d say not necessarily. My original aspiration was to become a lawyer, but my parents saw potential in journalism for me, and I pursued it. As they say, the rest is history.

Over the years, spanning more than a decade, I’ve worked in the media industry, supported development organizations, and invested in media development projects and startups. It’s been a journey of exploration, learning, and growth, and I’m excited about the opportunities and impact that media development offers.

What more do you think the media and development space can do more, or gaps that you’ve identified need to be bridged?

Technology and supporting local journalism can exert a profoundly positive influence on some of the world’s most critical issues.

First and foremost, promoting diversity at all levels is paramount. This involves not only celebrating diverse backgrounds but also amplifying the perspectives and voices of marginalized communities. Such inclusive representation enriches storytelling and ensures development initiatives cater to broader needs.

Closing the digital divide is an urgent necessity, particularly in underserved regions. Many communities still need access to the internet and digital resources. Hence, it’s imperative for media and development initiatives to actively promote digital literacy and expand internet accessibility to ensure everyone can benefit from digital advancements.

Rather than racing to break news stories, newsrooms should prioritize collaboration and partnerships. By combining their expertise and resources, media and development organizations can address intricate global challenges, such as poverty, education, healthcare, and climate change, more effectively through concerted efforts.

Furthermore, robust data collection and impact measurement should be central to the media and development space. Leveraging data-driven insights empowers organizations to gauge the efficacy of their initiatives and make informed decisions to enhance outcomes.

Lastly, funding is a critical concern for media organizations. Sufficient budgetary support is imperative for them to fulfill their crucial roles. Funders must recognize the significance of adequately financing media organizations to prevent the media landscape from being dominated solely by the highest bidder.

The media and development sectors have a vital role in addressing these challenges. They can make substantial strides in tackling some of the world’s most complex issues by championing diversity, closing the digital divide, fostering collaboration, embracing data-driven decision-making, and ensuring adequate funding.

On how to take care of your mental health and work expectations, Abang has this to say: “Champion Physical Well-Being, Safeguard Boundaries, Seek Support Unflinchingly, Champion Breaks, Engage in Self-Reflection, Leverage Your Time Off, and Strength in Seeking Assistance.” – Mercy Abang.

When was the first time you knew journalism was going to be your passion and career?

Thank you for bringing up this topic. I can recall a groundbreaking story I covered several years ago, one that underscored the pressing needs of a community in the heart of Abuja, lacking access to clean water. This story not only made its way to the then FCT minister but also prompted swift action. The local municipal council chairman was compelled to provide the community with the basic amenities they so desperately required.

This is just one of many examples, and it served as a revelation regarding the importance of development journalism in numerous African communities. Often, our attention is drawn to political elites and celebrities dominating headlines, but, in my humble opinion, the true impact of journalism unfolds at the grassroots level.

There was another instance where I received a hint of an impending communal clash. I took the initiative to break the story, which played a pivotal role in preventing the community from descending into chaos. Thanks to the intervention of the authorities and the subsequent meeting of religious leaders, the potentially destructive clash was averted.

Then there’s the remarkable story of a woman in Maiduguri during the height of the Boko Haram insurgency. Her narrative had a profound impact on the plight of her children. Similarly, in Ondo State, I encountered the compelling stories of women who dedicated themselves to supporting local mothers safely giving birth.

The list of such impactful stories is extensive, and as you can see from these few examples, they rarely revolve around political elites or celebrities. These are predominantly stories of ordinary people at the community level, whose voices might otherwise remain unheard but have the power to effect meaningful change.

“In this age of new media, staying informed and adaptable is more critical than ever. It’s essential to continuously educate yourself, grasp emerging trends, and follow them closely to stay updated on global events.” – Mercy Abang.

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?

If you’ve ever found yourself in a profession where your compensation doesn’t quite measure up to your peers in different fields, that speaks volumes, perhaps with a chuckle. But on a more serious note, my passion for journalism blossomed when I took stock of the numerous occasions I willingly invested my money to bring important stories to light. The list of these impactful stories, which have left a lasting mark on communities across Nigeria, is long and resonant.

What’s particularly intriguing is that I often tend to forget that I played a role in funding these stories until a reporter reminds me of our collaborative efforts. But as I’ve consistently maintained, change is a constant companion in my career trajectory, even within the realms of journalism and media development.

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

This question takes me back to a remarkable chapter in my journey, one I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have experienced. Back when Independent Television first set foot in Abuja, I was still a student. Eager to be part of this new television venture in town, I, like many others, applied for a position.

What stands out is the pivotal role played by the then Executive Director, Mr. Isiaka Aliyu. He recognized my deep-seated passion for current affairs and politics—an inclination fostered by my father, who not only instilled in me a love for politics but also made sure I read newspapers and stayed informed. During the auditions and interviews, Mr. Isiaka Aliyu saw something in me and promptly offered me a position as a political correspondent.

This opportunity was nothing short of transformative and unforgettable. It’s not often that newcomers are thrust into political coverage with such rapidity. I may have appeared small and unassuming at the time, leaving senior editors somewhat perplexed, but that role compelled me to show up day after day, even on weekends and during holidays. It pushed me to mature quickly in my career.

I owe an immense debt of gratitude to Mr. Isiaka Aliyu for affording me this head start—a chance that would shape the trajectory of my career. And it wasn’t just about reporting; we also received comprehensive training in presentation and delivery. The late Sadiq Daba was among our trainers, imparting invaluable insights on how to stand out and excel. May his soul rest in peace.

In addition to Mr. Daba, I must also acknowledge the guidance of Mr. Danladi Bako and numerous others who played pivotal roles in my growth and development during that formative period. Their mentorship and support were instrumental in shaping my career, and for that, I will always be grateful.

One pressing concern within the broadcasting industry, akin to many sectors, revolves around economic hurdles, particularly amidst the sweeping waves of digital disruption. It’s disheartening to observe the staggering expenses incurred, with some television stations allocating a substantial 70 percent of their revenue toward diesel, primarily due to power supply deficiencies. The infrastructural challenges at a national level compound these difficulties, affecting businesses to an even greater extent.”Mercy Abang. PC: Abang.

Do you still have any current challenges you’re trying to overcome?

Indeed, as you progress in your career, you inevitably confront the tougher questions. Beyond the initial enthusiasm and passion that drive you, practical considerations start to weigh in. The excitement you once felt may slowly diminish as the realities of bills to pay and personal needs to address become more prominent.

Yet, I’ve come to embrace this evolution with a sense of contentment. It’s been quite some time—over two, perhaps even four years—since I last filed a story intentionally. This period of deliberate inactivity is part of my broader career strategy. Staying in the same role indefinitely can stifle personal and professional growth. It’s essential to recognize when it’s time to step aside, reevaluate, and explore new avenues within the field.

For me, this transition offers an opportunity to engage with the industry at different levels and capacities, and I look forward to the fresh perspectives and challenges it will bring.

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

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been fortunate not to encounter some of the challenges that others might have faced due to the experiences I’ve shared. However, I firmly believe that for aspiring journalists, waiting for your organization to pave the way isn’t the only option. The world is in a state of constant change, and there has never been a more opportune moment to take charge of your own media narrative and create your newsroom.

In this dynamic landscape, the possibilities for revenue generation are limitless. Seize these opportunities and strive to stand out. Don’t merely rely on established structures; be proactive, innovative, and carve your path in the evolving realm of journalism.

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

I am an investor deeply committed to supporting media startups, and my passion has long been to establish a newsroom with a unique mission. This newsroom’s primary focus would be to go beyond the conventional headlines and prioritize human-interest stories, particularly at the grassroots level.

I envision a newsroom dedicated to shedding light on parts of society that often remain overlooked due to factors like limited access and resources. These are the stories that typically don’t make it to the front pages. They are stories of real people, their struggles, triumphs, and the issues they face daily.

The time has come for me to make a swift decision and venture into this terrain, one that will provide me with the means to not only realize this vision but also fund it generously. The goal is clear: to give a voice to the voiceless and illuminate the narratives that deserve to be heard.

The key to success in the digital age of journalism lies in proactive self-promotion, a robust skill set, and unwavering determination to leverage every opportunity that comes your way. Your online presence, fortified by your achievements, will be the beacon that guides you on your path to international media recognition.”Mercy Abang. PC: Abang.

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

This is a fascinating topic, and it’s something we often don’t emphasize enough. While journalism may not always provide substantial financial rewards, it offers a wealth of opportunities that you should actively pursue. I can personally attest to the value of seizing these chances.

One of the most transformative experiences in my journalism career was a training program at the Grimme Institute in Germany, focused on virtual reality and innovative forms of media and storytelling. Such opportunities are abundant and seemingly endless. I encourage you to apply for them as often as you can. Persistence is key, and someday, someone will recognize your potential and say yes.

In this age of new media, staying informed and adaptable is more critical than ever. It’s essential to continuously educate yourself, grasp emerging trends, and follow them closely to stay updated on global events.

Moreover, there are valuable opportunities like scholarships offered by institutions like the Columbia Journalism School. These scholarships, even if they’re in the hundreds of dollars, can significantly ease the financial burden. While I personally didn’t attend a school on a scholarship, I firmly believe that securing scholarships is a far better alternative than having to bear the weight of substantial expenses. It’s a path worth exploring with a smile.

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

Managing human beings is undeniably one of the most formidable challenges one can undertake. I speak from experience, having worn the hat of a manager in various phases of my life. I firmly believe that setting clear rules and guidelines is imperative. It’s unwise to assume that everyone who enters the newsroom or office comprehends the unspoken nuances. Regardless of age or experience, without a well-defined framework that fosters respect among colleagues and cultivates a culture of professionalism, any environment can descend into chaos.

However, I also advocate for looking beyond the reflection of society and urging journalists to reflect upon themselves. It’s entirely possible to be right and yet approach situations with kindness. In the pursuit of truth and reporting, it’s crucial to infuse empathy and a sense of corporate social responsibility. This balance allows us not only to uphold high journalistic standards but also to demonstrate compassion and understanding in our interactions, creating a workplace culture that fosters growth and mutual respect.

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

Hmm, I believe I might have pursued a career in law.

Mercy Abang on how Women in Media can become female leaders in media:

Empowering women in the field of media and communications is not just a matter of choice; it’s an imperative. They confront multifaceted obstacles, including gender bias, unequal opportunities, and workplace discrimination, to name a few. I’ve witnessed the transformative potential of mentorship programs and professional networks for women. The guidance of experienced mentors isn’t just a roadmap to career growth—it’s a beacon through the labyrinth of challenges. Networking becomes a lifeline, forging connections that not only unlock job prospects but also ignite collaborations and provide steadfast support in times of adversity.
The delicate balance between work and life often leans disproportionately upon women. Embracing flexible work arrangements, be it through remote work options or part-time roles, empowers women to harmonize their professional aspirations with familial responsibilities. Flexibility isn’t merely a perk; it’s an essential tool for retaining the industry’s most brilliant female talents.
Your platform should serve as a testament to your work, achievements, and expertise. Articulate your journey in a way that captivates international employers or potential collaborators. Don’t hesitate to tag them if the occasion arises; your online visibility can be your most potent advocate. It’s a stark reality that journalism, while intrinsically rewarding, can be financially modest. Yet, the possibilities it offers are boundless.

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

You can’t simply arrive and expect to claim your position in any society solely because you’re a woman or because of your ethnicity. It requires diligent, unwavering effort—the kind of hard work that paves the way for real change. Women remain significantly underrepresented in newsrooms, and it’s imperative that we strive for fair representation.

One valuable step is to find a mentor, someone you can turn to for guidance and support. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have had mentors like Isiaka Aliyu and Sadiq Daba, both of whom happened to be men. It’s essential to acknowledge their role, even in discussions about gender representation. In our quest for greater gender equality, we should recognize the significance of men as allies. Their support and advocacy can be instrumental in breaking down barriers and fostering a more inclusive and equitable society.

Tell us about some of your accomplishments that make you proud of yourself and continue to inspire you to do more?

I struggle when it comes to discussing my own accomplishments, and some might see this as a weakness. However, I firmly believe that it’s the small, often unnoticed actions that bring me the greatest satisfaction. I don’t seek the spotlight or name recognition, and in fact, I prefer not to be mentioned in that regard. For me, it’s all about making a meaningful impact rather than receiving applause. My focus is on the change I can effect, not the recognition I can gain.

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

You know, during all those times I traveled to file stories in Maiduguri, it was made possible because a development organization had a need for me to conduct journalism training in the Northeast. It got me thinking, why not seize this opportunity to tell stories that truly resonate with my passion and purpose? And that’s exactly what I did.

I often advise fellow journalists to explore opportunities with development organizations and NGOs. By offering communication training and related services, they can not only diversify their revenue streams but also contribute to capacity building within the industry. It’s a win-win scenario that empowers both journalists and the organizations they collaborate with.

How do you balance your personal life, work, and family expectations?

Life is a journey filled with challenges, but then again, what aspect of life is ever truly easy, right? I simply wake up each day and tackle the tasks I can, one step at a time.

In your years on the job, have you ever experienced burnout, mental fatigue, or mental health crisis? How did you handle it? How can women and men in the media reduce burnout, mental health breakdown, or prevent it?

In the unforgiving arena of the media industry, burnout and mental health concerns are a pervasive specter, driven by the relentless grind of high-pressure deadlines, exposure to harrowing events, and the ceaseless demands of marathon work hours. Here’s how you can fortify your mental resilience and well-being:

Champion Physical Well-Being: Elevate self-care to a paramount status by ensuring you get the restorative sleep you need, maintain a nourishing diet, and regularly engage in invigorating physical activity. These bedrock principles of physical health exert a profound influence on your mental equilibrium.

Safeguard Boundaries: Erect unwavering boundaries demarcating your professional and personal realms. Refrain from overextending yourself, and reserve cherished moments for relaxation and leisure. These respites are the lifeblood of rejuvenation.

Master Stress Management: Cultivate effective stress management techniques, encompassing mindfulness, meditation, or the solace of deep breathing exercises. These tools become indispensable allies in taming the relentless pressures inherent in the profession.

Seek Support Unflinchingly: If the tempest of mental health challenges besets you, don’t hesitate to enlist the stalwart support of friends, family, or a therapist. Baring your emotions and experiences can serve as a potent balm for emotional relief.

Optimize Task Prioritization: Bolster your prowess in task prioritization to stave off the looming specter of impending deadlines. Discern the critical tasks, delineate attainable goals, and judiciously delegate responsibilities whenever feasible.

Champion Breaks: Infuse your workday with regular breaks to breathe life back into your mind and vanquish the specter of mental fatigue. Even the briefest respites or a brisk jaunt can conjure remarkable benefits.

Engage in Self-Reflection: Regularly engage in introspective assessments to gauge your mental well-being. Listen keenly to the faint echoes of burnout or emotional turmoil. Should these whispers arise, summon the courage to undertake proactive measures.

Leverage Your Time Off: Don’t shy away from tapping into your vacation and personal days when the need arises. These intervals of respite are the cornerstone of renewal.
Advocate for Mental Health: Be a steadfast advocate for a workplace culture that exalts mental health. Foster candid conversations, defy the stigma, and nurture an environment where well-being flourishes.

Strength in Seeking Assistance: Recognize that seeking support is a testament to your inner strength, not a sign of frailty. Rally your colleagues to partake in open dialogues concerning mental health. Through collective effort, wherein both women and men in the media unite, we forge an unassailable bulwark against burnout and mental health crises.

By embracing a holistic approach to well-being and fostering a culture that esteems mental health, media professionals can marshal their inner fortitude to confront the industry’s relentless trials while preserving their mental vitality and unshakeable tenacity.

Managing human beings is undeniably one of the most formidable challenges one can undertake. I speak from experience, having worn the hat of a manager in various phases of my life. I firmly believe that setting clear rules and guidelines is imperative. It’s unwise to assume that everyone who enters the newsroom or office comprehends the unspoken nuances. Regardless of age or experience, without a well-defined framework that fosters respect among colleagues and cultivates a culture of professionalism, any environment can descend into chaos.”Mercy Abang. PC: Abang.

What was another defining moment for you in your journalism career?

Another defining moment in my career unfolded when I had the privilege of funding an investigative story on racketeering plaguing the Abuja-Kaduna train route. This remarkable exposé was crafted by one of Nigeria’s brilliant investigative journalists, Fisayo Soyombo, and it was produced in partnership with Business Day.

As I delved into this story, my initial motivation stemmed from the persistent narratives I encountered on Twitter, vividly narrating the harrowing experiences of Nigerians grappling with the intricacies of rail travel. Tales of challenges they faced while trying to navigate the journey, including the alleged machinations of ticket vendors, resonated deeply. This narrative painted a disturbing portrait of a system in turmoil, with ticket booking, sales, and resale practices shrouded in opacity.

Driven by a strong belief in the importance of this story, I promptly engaged with Fisayo to discuss our collective commitment to shedding light on this issue. It was abundantly clear that the prevailing ordeal demanded swift rectification. My conviction was grounded in the belief that a well-manned and digitally monitored system could be a potent antidote to these ills. The eventual outcome of our collaborative endeavor can aptly be likened to opening a Pandora’s box. Through the investigative piece, a candid revelation emerged, with workers unabashedly disclosing the extent of their financial gains from this racket. This exposé painted a disconcerting picture of countless Nigerians enduring a maddening odyssey to secure train tickets, replete with hours spent in station lobbies, imploring and beseeching for a service that should have been seamless.

Subsequent to the publication of the story, the response was nothing short of remarkable. The then-Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, displayed prompt and decisive action. Notably, he suspended the ongoing practices and promptly initiated measures to digitize the ticketing process. This incident encapsulates just one among many such moments in my career. It underscores the remarkable impact that can be achieved when one identifies a systemic problem and forges the vital connections to its potential solutions.

From a media perspective, this story served as a catalyst, propelling crucial issues into the awareness of those vested with the authority to act. The ripple effect of such endeavors has profound implications, particularly in a society where developmental strides continue to dominate the government’s policy and action agenda. These are the moments that reaffirm the significance of our work and underscore the adage that states, “it is history in the making.”

Abang on how to handle office politics:

My advice on this matter is simple yet profound: remain unwaveringly true to your convictions. By forging constructive relationships with colleagues, superiors, and subordinates, you set the stage for a harmonious and cooperative work environment. Cultivating a network of allies and supporters holds immeasurable value for your career trajectory—whether they are found within your organization or beyond its borders. I’ve learned firsthand that I am a sum of my network and the collective assistance of individuals. We cannot navigate life in isolation; we are, in essence, defined by our alliances. Recognize this fundamental truth, and serenity will follow.

What kind of support do you think women in media and communications need to overcome different forms of barriers to excel and thrive? And why do you think having these kinds of support is important?

Empowering women in the field of media and communications is not just a matter of choice; it’s an imperative. They confront multifaceted obstacles, including gender bias, unequal opportunities, and workplace discrimination, to name a few.

Over time, I’ve witnessed the transformative potential of mentorship programs and professional networks for women. The guidance of experienced mentors isn’t just a roadmap to career growth—it’s a beacon through the labyrinth of challenges. Networking becomes a lifeline, forging connections that not only unlock job prospects but also ignite collaborations and provide steadfast support in times of adversity.

Equity in earnings is not a mere ideal; it’s a fundamental right. Women should unquestionably receive remuneration commensurate with their male peers for equivalent work. Bridging the gender pay gap and fostering diversity in leadership roles are vital components of achieving gender parity within the industry.

The delicate balance between work and life often leans disproportionately upon women. Embracing flexible work arrangements, be it through remote work options or part-time roles, empowers women to harmonize their professional aspirations with familial responsibilities. Flexibility isn’t merely a perk; it’s an essential tool for retaining the industry’s most brilliant female talents.

Within the media landscape, the foundation for change must extend to the very structure. Creating a workplace culture steeped in inclusivity and respect for all genders isn’t just a commendable goal—it’s a mandate. The implementation of anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies isn’t optional; it’s a necessity. An environment where every voice is not just heard but also respected paves the way for authentic gender equality.

In my experience within the realm of television, I’ve seen the industry falter in championing diverse voices, especially in addressing issues concerning women. It’s time for a transformation. Encouraging multifaceted and uplifting portrayals of women in media content is a potent weapon against prevailing stereotypes. It doesn’t merely challenge the status quo; it propels the cause of gender equality.

These initiatives don’t just signify progress; they constitute the building blocks of a more equitable, inclusive, and dynamic media and communications industry, where every individual can thrive and contribute their unique perspectives.

What are certain assumptions women in media make or have within this career space that you have found to be untrue and thus, serves as limiting barriers to their advancement? And why is it important they change these narratives?

In the expansive realm of media, deep-rooted assumptions and narratives often serve as formidable barriers to the progress of women. To create real change, it’s imperative to challenge and dismantle these preconceived notions.

Consider, for instance, the deeply ingrained assumption that women are inherently more suited for “soft” content—like lifestyle or entertainment—while “hard” news and political reporting are domains better navigated by men. Yet, the reality is far from this dated stereotype. Women have demonstrated their prowess across all facets of media, be it investigative journalism, political reporting, or other traditionally male-dominated arenas. It’s crystal clear: one’s gender doesn’t dictate their aptitude for specific roles.

Moreover, these stereotypes are often byproducts of cultural and societal dynamics. The narratives that saturate our children’s upbringing play a profound role in shaping their aspirations. For instance, inundating our daughters with narratives solely centered on waiting for a prince to whisk them away into a life of luxury is far from healthy. Similarly, restricting our daughters to gendered toys perpetuates limiting beliefs. I, for one, made sure to offer my daughter not just a doll but also a tractor to play with—because I comprehend the pivotal role that early exposure plays in nurturing a young girl’s mind.

Lastly, the narrative that women cannot effectively balance family and career is not only outdated but patently false. Women have proven time and again that they can harmonize these aspects of their lives with remarkable finesse. What’s crucial is to wholeheartedly support their choices and institute family-friendly policies in the workplace that cater to their unique needs. It’s high time to embrace a more inclusive approach that empowers women to excel both in their professional pursuits and as nurturing caregivers.

What and how would you advise women to navigate office politics in such a way that it paves way for their careee developmemt and advancement?

Efficiently maneuvering through the intricate terrain of office politics is vital for both career development and advancement—this universal truth extends its reach to women as well as anyone else navigating the workplace. Although personally, I harbor a strong aversion to the various forms of office politics, it’s a nuanced game that pervades every corner of the professional world. Having traversed through Africa, made a stint in America, and currently finding my foothold in Europe, I can confidently affirm that office politics knows no boundaries; it thrives within organizations of all sizes.

My advice on this matter is simple yet profound: remain unwaveringly true to your convictions. By forging constructive relationships with colleagues, superiors, and subordinates, you set the stage for a harmonious and cooperative work environment. Cultivating a network of allies and supporters holds immeasurable value for your career trajectory—whether they are found within your organization or beyond its borders. I’ve learned firsthand that I am a sum of my network and the collective assistance of individuals. We cannot navigate life in isolation; we are, in essence, defined by our alliances. Recognize this fundamental truth, and serenity will follow.

While relationships form the bedrock of professional life, don’t overlook the importance of honing your skills and expertise. Striving to be a top performer in your domain is the route to command respect and exert a meaningful influence in your workplace. It’s worth noting that you needn’t be a maestro in every facet of your field—nobody holds the monopoly on perfection. The silent voice of your ego should guide you through the labyrinth of your career. It’s natural to encounter embarrassing moments when venturing into areas where brilliance doesn’t come naturally. Yet, embrace humility and remain eager to learn. In a few years’ time, your ego will wane into insignificance, overshadowed by the vast expanse of knowledge you’ll have acquired.

Lastly, arm yourself with knowledge. Keep abreast of the latest industry trends, developments within your company, and pertinent information. This wellspring of knowledge not only enhances your intrinsic value but also empowers you to partake in strategic discussions, allowing you to shape the course of your career more effectively.

How stereotypes are created:

The narratives that saturate our children’s upbringing play a profound role in shaping their aspirations. For instance, inundating our daughters with narratives solely centered on waiting for a prince to whisk them away into a life of luxury is far from healthy. Similarly, restricting our daughters to gendered toys perpetuates limiting beliefs. I, for one, made sure to offer my daughter not just a doll but also a tractor to play with—because I comprehend the pivotal role that early exposure plays in nurturing a young girl’s mind.” – Mercy Abang.

For women who desire feel they’re undervalued or no longer inspired within the spaces they work in the media and want to break into the international media community, what tips and advise will you give them?

Navigating a career in the digital age, especially in the field of journalism, demands that you become your most ardent promoter. In this era, your digital footprint eclipses the significance of your resume. To leave a lasting mark, create a compelling online presence through a professional website or portfolio.

Your platform should serve as a testament to your work, achievements, and expertise. Articulate your journey in a way that captivates international employers or potential collaborators. Don’t hesitate to tag them if the occasion arises; your online visibility can be your most potent advocate. It’s a stark reality that journalism, while intrinsically rewarding, can be financially modest. Yet, the possibilities it offers are boundless.

Embrace opportunities like fellowships, scholarships, or any avenue that piques your interest. Expect to encounter numerous “no” responses, but let persistence be your closest companion. Establish clear, specific goals for your international media career aspirations, and proactively identify any gaps in your skill set.

Invest in training, courses, or certifications to bridge these gaps. I can personally attest to the transformative power of diversifying one’s skill set. While working as a television reporter, I ventured into roles such as presentation director, non-linear editor, presenter, and producer for various shows. No one mandated these additional responsibilities, but I realized the strategic advantage of bolstering my skills.

I reasoned that by offering a multifaceted skill set to my organization, I not only increased my intrinsic value but also secured my position in the event of impending layoffs due to financial constraints. The outcome was revealing; while many of my colleagues faced potential redundancy, I found myself in the unique position of editing their stories and ensuring that our audience continued to enjoy their reports through my role as a presentation director.

In essence, the key to success in the digital age of journalism lies in proactive self-promotion, a robust skill set, and unwavering determination to leverage every opportunity that comes your way. Your online presence, fortified by your achievements, will be the beacon that guides you on your path to international media recognition.

I owe an immense debt of gratitude to Mr. Isiaka Aliyu for affording me this head start—a chance that would shape the trajectory of my career. And it wasn’t just about reporting; we also received comprehensive training in presentation and delivery. The late Sadiq Daba was among our trainers, imparting invaluable insights on how to stand out and excel . . .” – Mercy Abang. PC: Abang

Your background was in broadcasting. When you look at the broadcast industry where your media journey began, which aspects of broadcasting gives you concern and how do you think that area can be addressed?

I began my career as a broadcaster in Nigeria, and upon my move to Germany, I had the opportunity to host a number of live debates. However, my experience and insights are deeply rooted in my broadcasting journey in Nigeria. Hence, I’d like to focus on the challenges faced within the Nigerian context.

One pressing concern within the broadcasting industry, akin to many sectors, revolves around economic hurdles, particularly amidst the sweeping waves of digital disruption. It’s disheartening to observe the staggering expenses incurred, with some television stations allocating a substantial 70 percent of their revenue toward diesel, primarily due to power supply deficiencies. The infrastructural challenges at a national level compound these difficulties, affecting businesses to an even greater extent.

Mitigating these challenges calls for a multi-pronged strategy. Diversifying revenue streams, delving into the realm of digital platforms, and astute cost management represent pivotal measures in navigating these tumultuous waters.

The broadcasting sector shares these concerns with many other segments of the media landscape. Effectively addressing these issues necessitates a fusion of regulatory oversight, proactive industry self-regulation, and an overarching commitment to raising public awareness and engagement. Collaboration among key stakeholders, spanning broadcasters, regulatory bodies, journalists, and the general public, stands as the linchpin for addressing these multifaceted challenges. This concerted effort is indispensable to ensure that the industry remains attuned to and aligned with the broader public interest, in an ever-evolving media landscape.

How do you unwind, relax and let your hair down?

I’ve often been told that I have a bit of an anti-social streak in me. Truth be told, I find solace in the comforts of my home, and more often than not, you’ll find me engrossed in the soothing rhythm of cleaning or indulging in the captivating world of Netflix. Let’s set the record straight—I don’t have OCD, but there’s an inexplicable joy I derive from the pristine allure of fresh sheets, immaculate spaces, and plush towels. It’s a labor of love, and yes, it elicits a few chuckles.

Yet, it’s not all solitary reclusiveness; I have an abiding passion for whipping up culinary delights and playing the host, often throwing spirited gatherings for my friends. But beyond these spirited soirees, my ultimate sanctuary is the cinema. I revel in those moments when I find myself, a lone wanderer, absorbed in the enchanting world of the silver screen. There, amid the company of strangers, I freely express my laughter and amusement, surrendering to the magic of the best movies.

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