Veteran Journalists Haven’t Done Enough To Groom Journalism Graduates
Veteran journalists in Nigeria often condemn today’s journalism graduates for poor performance. They dismiss them as know nothings. But the veterans are not guiltless? They should be on trial for failing the industry which made them. Where are the books which they have published from experience? What legacy have they left for the present generation in terms of learning? Not more than one percent of them may have written books.
Let classrooms serve as the competent courts of jurisdiction on this case. Lecturers will be the judges and students the witnesses. Veterans should tell the courts how well they have promoted scholarship. They should explain why they withhold their pens from writing textbooks on mass communication or journalism but activate the pens on biographies and newspaper columns. Reasons for such preference will be good to hear; notwithstanding anyone’s conservative idea of the reasons.
Former editors should tell why they hoard their practical knowledge from the younger ones. Public Relations and Advertising experts should come forward and explain their position. How many books have they written? Back to the newsroom; why are experienced reporters not telling the How’s of their beats in books? Why are they not writing text-books with exclusive case studies for learning? Yet, they are quick to complain about bad products and poor standard in the industry.
Departmental shelves are empty on campuses. Libraries are scanty and bookstores are bare. Lecturers search and search to no avail. Students’ fate isn’t any better. No books! That makes teaching tough and learning arduous.
Lecturers who anxiously seek ways to marry gown and town resignedly defer to authors who lack field experience. That’s the dilemma. Times have changed and are still changing. New books should keep coming. But they are non-existent. Unfortunately, new or old, our veterans’ names are missing on the list of authors. Knowledge is farfetched without books. Even in the Christian Holy Scriptures, Daniel and Timothy, two powerful prophets, understood issues by books! Check Daniel 9:2 and 2Timothy 4:13. Similar verses must be in the Quran.
We need books from professionals to tell the “How’s” of their subjects. Students want to know. Condemning them without providing the grounds to do so is unfair. We are on ground; we see them; we know them; we interact with them and understand their plight. The internet is not enough. People always say that the internet is readily available for all manner of desired books. Is your own book there? Where then do you expect teachers and students to find relevant ones?
Book writing may not be encouraging in terms of returns; but it is fulfilling for those who value scholarship. No industry can grow without books. Journalism is too big an industry in Nigeria to continually depend on foreign books. We need local books too with cultural and experiential touch. Such books will tell our stories and make learning sweeter and more engaging. The people over there are waiting to learn from us. Knowledge is shared. If otherwise, how did one of us win the Pulitzer Prize a few years ago? And yet another one won in South-Africa! We have something to teach the world in journalism and other professions.
Books on specialized reporting are rare. What we find is one author writing on all beats. That’s not the best. One author can’t know all beats like his own beat or beats; depending on the number of beats he has covered. How many authors have ever been on the field? They write books; but they have never written news or feature or editorial. It explains why reporters or editors should write and provide all the intricacies. The approach and case studies will differ. That is the beauty. Scholarship is about looking for a gap in your specialty and filling it. If you think students will not use such books, try us at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism where we give utmost attention to practical teaching. Two veterans co-authored a book on feature writing some years ago. It is one of the best books on features that I have read. One feels the touch of our world in it. That is the purpose. Others should join their league. We will read you.
Culled from the facebook page of Omojuyigbe Dele. He is the Deputy Provost at Nigerian Institute of Journalism Lagos. He worked at Daily Times.