To expand efforts in ensuring that the COVID-19 pandemic gets more reported by the media in Nigeria by examining government interventions and promises in relation to the realities on the ground, the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) has commissioned a second set of reporters under its COVID-19 Reality Check Project. The project examines government interventions and promises in relation to the realities on ground in terms of social welfare, water and sanitation, economics, security, food availability and accessibility, education, electric power supply, among others.
During a virtual meeting held Wednesday, 10th June 2020, the 18 reporters in attendance shared their story ideas under a broad spectrum of issues the pandemic has thrown up since the index case was reported in Nigeria. The reporters will undergo a month mentoring under a group of experienced media practitioners towards successful delivery on their pitched story ideas. The meeting started with the welcome address by Adeolu Adekola, WSCIJ Senior Programme Officer who welcomed the participants and stated the purpose of the meeting.
Motunrayo Alaka WSCIJ’s Executive Director thereafter took the participants on a session titled ‘What do I report now’ to provide a broader perspective of the project and broad stories issues that should be interrogated. An added feature for the second set of reporters commissioned under the project is the introduction of a mentoring component for the journalists to have access to guidance and knowledge sharing by experienced practitioners in the media industry. Five seasoned practitioners will serve in this capacity bringing onboard years of expertise to bear on the project. They are Mrs. Bimbo Oloyede, veteran broadcaster and CEO of Strictly Speaking; Mr. Rotimi Sankore, Chief Editorial Coordinator, Special Projects at NigeriaInfo Radio group, Mrs. Omobola Akingbehin, Senior Editor, News Agency of Nigeria, Dr. Femi Folorunsho, Development Officer, Creative Scotland; and Mr Gbile Oshadipe, photojournalist, historian and Lecturer at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism.
The meeting continued with participants breaking into groups thereby creating an avenue for the reporters to interact with their mentors, pitch story ideas and get instant clarifications on grey areas. The meeting reconvened with a member from each group presenting the pitches for their group with contributions and comments from other mentors. Safety issues, methodology of implementation and other details were also highlighted by Mrs. Alaka.
At inception of the COVID-19 Reality Check Project in April, the WSCIJ commissioned 14 reporters across print, radio, television and online media platforms. To date, 51 stories some of which have had some impact and stakeholder responses have been published. Story issues covered include health (safety and welfare of healthcare workers, infrastructure/facilities/testing kits, maternal and mental health), education, food security, judiciary, livelihood, safety and security, housing, business, people living with disabilities as well as water, sanitation and hygiene.