By Adedapo Adesanya
Nigeria Health Watch has kicked off the second cohort of newsrooms working to expand the practice of Solutions Journalism in Africa.
Solutions Journalism adopts a solutions-oriented approach to journalism; telling rigorous, investigative, and compelling stories of responses to various social problems so that they can be scaled up or replicated elsewhere.
It differs from traditional, often problem-focused journalism because it highlights what works, as opposed to what does not, and goes further to investigate why an intervention or solution to a social problem was able to bring change.
Three nominees from 10 newsrooms from across Nigeria participated in a two-day in-person training in Abuja to learn why solutions journalism matters and the framework for producing it.
The Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ) also produced the first set of student cohorts to grace the training.
The training is part of the Solutions Journalism Africa Initiative project implemented by Nigeria Health Watch with support from the Solutions Journalism Network (SJN).
The first cohort received their training in 2021 and was supported by the project team to produce and publish solutions-focused stories across multiple platforms.
Speaking at the training, the Managing Director of Nigeria Health Watch, Mrs Vivianne Ihekweazu said, “It is important to look at how communities and individuals are solving various social problems and provide them with platforms to show what they are doing despite the challenges.”
The initiative, she said, therefore, presents a unique opportunity to redefine the way news is reported in Nigeria – providing an alternative news option and empowering Nigerians by showing where solutions have been found to everyday problems in the country, and not only reinforcing the often-accepted narrative.
In her remarks, Ms Ruona Meyer, the Africa Initiative Manager at the SJN said negative reporting has denied audiences of a holistic view of the news and denied journalists the power to build society through constructive reporting. She encouraged the participants to be part of this movement that is ensuring that audiences are empowered with the contents they consume.
The training culminated in a visit to the Wassa Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDPs) camp where participants interacted with community members to not only learn about their challenges but also how they are working hard to respond to those challenges.
According to Mr Abijola Amzat, the Managing Editor, International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), one of the 10 newsrooms participating in the second cohort, “The ICIR is happy to partner with Nigeria Health Watch to mainstream Solutions Journalism in Nigeria.
“We know that the material conditions of Nigerians are difficult now, but there are efforts from various sectors to improve situations. We believe journalists should report both the problems and the solutions people are seeking to improve lives.
“Therefore, this collaboration matters. Our goal is to produce journalists with a complete sense of awareness of the negative and the positive experiences of the people. We hope this project will bring us closer to the achievement of that objective.”
The practice of Solutions Journalism has continued to grow in Africa and the Nigeria Health Watch Torchlight series uses the approach to report on responses to health problems in Nigeria, with the Torchlight Africa series providing narratives of solutions in other African countries. To further expand the practice in Africa, the Solutions Journalism Africa Initiative will train newsrooms in Nigeria and Kenya on solutions journalism.
Following their training, the journalist nominees from the newsrooms will be supported and mentored over five months to investigate, write, produce, publish, or broadcast their solutions stories.
NHW Announces 2022 Solutions Journalism Africa Fellowship
Also, a fellowship known as the Solutions Journalism Africa fellows was launched by the organisers as part of the initiative. These fellows also joined the newsroom nominees in the training. They will also be supported to produce their stories and other fellowship deliverables in the next four months.
The 2022 Solutions Journalism Africa Fellows are:
- Israel Olatunji Tijani
- Umo Akwang
- Adam Alqali
- Blessing Oladunjoye
- Rasheed Ademola Adebiyi
- Usman Aliyu
- Abiodun Jamiu
- Folakemi Ajala
- Misbahu el-Hamza
- Emiene Erameh