Newsrooms in Nigeria are tasked with reporting on those in power, to shine a light on their actions and where they may misstep. In doing so, the media can promote improvement in accountability and good governance, which face significant hurdles in the country today.
Recognizing this need, journalist Gidado Yushau Shuaib launched the independent media outlet, Youth Digest, in 2018, to empower a new generation of reporters in the country. Youth Digest promotes inclusiveness, social justice and accountability among student journalists across Nigeria’s institutions of higher education.
“We are trying to change the world and, most importantly, help reshape the future of Nigerian media, including African media in general,” said Shuaib. “We strongly believe that empowering the right people, bringing them from campuses, and providing them with a platform to write for and excel in their career is the stepping stone in getting to where they all ought to be in their journalism careers.”
Youth Digest uses its Campus Journalism Award to elevate the most skilled and serious journalists among this population, and to promote journalistic values among other student journalists.
"In society where everyone is claiming to be a journalist, we went down to the grassroot to pick out students who are acting professionally in the course of their journalism careers, [to] recognize [them] and work with them to promote our organization’s values and to also encourage professionalism in media spaces,” said Shuaib. “These young folks play a significant role in representing the voice of their fellow students and protecting their rights when the need arises.”
Youth Digest holds writing competitions for student journalists through which it selects finalists for the Campus Journalism Award. The outlet also offers training for the award finalists, and award winners receive mentorship to sharpen their journalism skills.
Mohammed Dahiru Lawal, won the Campus Journalism Award in 2020. Having raised his profile with the award, he later earned international recognition with the Kwame Kari Kari Fact-Checking Fellowship in West Africa, and he won both the African Public Relations Award for Special Achievement in Branding and Reputation in Tanzania, and the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship. He has also led key journalism projects in the country such as the Daily Nigeria's Grassroots Investigative Reporting Project and, most recently, as Head of Investigations and Fact-Checking at PRNigeria.
Fellow award winner Abdulhaleem Ishaq-Ringim has always been passionate about the power of the written word. “Looking at the articles I have written, you’d be able to draw quite a definitive conclusion that all of them advocate for Youth Digest’s youth inclusiveness, social injustice, and accountability,” said Ringim.
Chinalurumogu Eze, the winner of the 2022 award, hopes to revive the student journalism union at the University of Nigeria, Nsuka, and engage more of her colleagues to speak out about issues students face on campus. “I believe that everything I need in life is embedded in my relationship with journalism,” she said.
Creating adequate space for student journalists to demand government accountability, youth engagement in politics, and social justice is a welcome initiative, said Lekan Otufodunrin, media development expert and Media Career Development Network’s executive director.
“I think it's a very commendable effort by the organizers considering the high tempo of campus journalism practiced across the country,” he noted. “It will encourage excellence and competition among the students by giving them a good platform to get their articles published."