Each month, IJNet features an international journalist who exemplifies the profession and has used the site to further his or her career. If you would like to be featured, email a short bio and a paragraph about how you have used IJNet by August 20 here.
This month's journalist, Grace Ekang of Nigeria, found four fellowships through IJNet, which she said helped position her for the job she has today.
IJNet: Where are you from and where do you currently work?
Grace Ekang: I am from Akwa lbom State, in South-South Nigeria but, l was born, live, school and grew up in Rivers State also in the South-South geo-political region of Nigeria.
I am currently the bureau chief/correspondent, Niger Delta for Channels Television, in Lagos, Nigeria.
IJNet: How have you used IJNet?
GE: Through the IJNET website, I got the Foster Davis Fellowship for African Journalists in 2004, the Thomson Reuters Foundation fellowship program in 2008, The RNTC fellowship program in 20I0 and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting in 2011. This website has help re-position me for the position l am hold today.
I am also currently applying for funds to train female journalists in the region where l work in Nigeria and am on a waiting list for an upcoming fellowship program in the U.K. that I found through IJNet.
IJNet: How did you get started in journalism?
GE I was inspired by my contributions as a member of my schools club journal publication in the secondary school...I remember on several occasions l acted as news anchor while a student and my parents were very proud of me at the end of that news drama also my class mates and it became my nick name at school. I grew up wanting to be a news anchor and reporter. I made friends with very much older people both male and female who were in the broadcast media profession that l saw as my idols then.
l would always sneak out of the house to join them to work but not without the knowledge of my siblings, to know and watch what they were doing behind the cameras and microphones. Though I worked outside journalism career after l graduated from university, l started my professional journalism career some 15 years ago with a Christian newspaper called Revelation then Spiral magazine, worked part time with Tell magazine in Port Harcourt, to CTL Cable Television while here, l studied in professional journalism after l graduated in Political science majoring in public administration and now l am the Niger Delta bureau/correspondent for Channels Television, Lagos, Nigeria. l believe that l will anchor the news someday.
IJNet: How do you get ideas for stories?
GE: I believe that our daily lives and activities alone are enough stories. I take time out to sit where there are a lot of stories being told like the pub, and read daily papers (for) news that needs a follow-up, search websites of organizations where I have had my internships, I also sort news on IJNet bulletins especially if it’s a research report like what am working on now. I also use social network media sites and compare them to the context of our national similar issues.
The environment where l live and grow up is enough story of its own and has a lot of human interest stories -- from poverty, health, to any form of environmental reports -- which has made international headlines for decade.
IJNet: What is your proudest work/story so far?
GE: My proudest work so far is the upcoming training program l have designed for female journalists in the region where l lived and work to impart what l have learned in partnership with some of the schools l have trained.
In story and my work as a reporter, it's a political report on a governor in the Niger Delta who was stoned by irate youths while he was making a public speech to welcome the Nigerian president. The youths said they were not satisfied with his administration. Doing a follow up report on that, they later apologized to the governor and promised to dialogue with the government instead of violence.
It was my best because government-owned media were unable to air that report because the governor was currently in office. Though a live broadcast of the event was filmed by a government TV station, the transmission was quickly switched off. Meanwhile, l did on-the-spot reporting and my news editor was so pleased that we had the visuals for a repeat broadcast. Maybe, if l were in government-owned TV we would not have done that report.
IJNet: What advice would you give aspiring journalists?
I have made it a duty to professionally upgrade myself at my own expense by taking courses in every area of journalism irrespective of beats from digital video to online, print or social networks. l started from print and moved forward to magazines and now broadcast TV. Journalism is all about commitment and dedication.
It is a selfless service to your society and community. As the voice to the voiceless and as public watchdogs, the first priority for the up coming younger ones in the profession should always be putting the ethics of the profession first.
Being the fourth after the third tier of government in the societal hierarchy, journalists should be objective, transparent, honest, truthful and unbiased in order to sail to the top and carve a name for themselves. They should take time to do research for their reports it doesn’t matter how long it will take before the publication...Journalists are seen as treat to the society yet we speak for society. They should not let that discourage them; they should go for the best but, most avoid confrontational journalism this poses a very serious danger to the life of the reporter...