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Solutions Journalism is key instrument in changing the narrative – Ihekweazu

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Solutions Journalism is key instrument in changing the narrative – Ihekweazu

The Managing Director, Nigeria Health Watch, Mrs Vivian Ihekweazu, has said that solution Journalism is a key instrument in changing the narrative of how news is reported in the country.

Ihekweazu said this on Thursday in Abuja at the project closeout event to share the impact of the work and celebrate organisations, newsrooms, and individuals that made the project successful in the country.

The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that in 2021, Nigeria Health Watch officially commenced the implementation of the Nigeria edition of the Solutions Journalism Africa Initiative project supported by Solutions Journalism Network (SJN), USA, and overseen by Africa Initiative.

The three-year journey has been fulfilling and purposeful, according to the organizers.

She said that evidence has shown that consumers of news tend to switch off when the news reporting is focused on problems.

“Solutions journalism, rigorous reporting about how people respond to social problems tells the whole story as it discusses the problem and response to problems.

“The collaboration between Nigeria Health Watch and the Solutions Journalism Africa Initiative (SJAI) is the generous support of Solutions Journalism Network,” she said.

She said that the project has trained and supported newsrooms and journalists, enabling them to produce impactful stories that inspire change and offer hope to our communities.

“Through newsrooms, we have trained and through higher institutions, with universities now including in curriculum solutions-oriented reporting so that future journalists are able to report solutions to issues faced in Nigeria and not just leaving it to the usual way we see the news as negative.

“We have collaborated with 30 media organisations, forming three cohorts of newsrooms and engaging a total of 90 journalists.

“We have had over 250 solutions stories published, with over 100 of them indexed. while this is commendable, we will continue to focus on the impact made,” she said.

According to Mr Buki Ponle, Managing Director, NAN, “Whatever we do as journalists, conscience matters.

“As you tell stories, ensure your writing touches humanity and promotes the public interest.”

Speaking on the importance of balancing stories as journalists, Ponle said that there is always a positive aspect of every negative situation.

While commending Nigerian Health Watch, he urged journalists to always look for the positive side of every situation.

“We should think of making heroes and heroines,” he advised.

He said that the relevance of journalists in community service was a crucial strategy for advocating for development through factual and resourceful stories.

“As a journalist, it is important to always stand by communities,” he said.

Ms Ruona Meyer, Manager, Africa Initiative, SJAI, said that through the solutions journalism initiative in the country, stories that have inspired policy reform have been produced.

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Meyer said that it was bringing about a change in the media reporting approach in the country.

She said that the incredible stories the project produced while implementing it were now being used to train colleagues in journalism, which was a key achievement.

She said that solutions Journalism adds more value to news reporting in the country.

“Journalists and media practitioners agree that consumers are becoming more discerning about the kind of news they read.

“The current generation of readers has been noted to stay away from news that amplifies problems, seeking solutions journalism stories to uplift and inspire change,” she said.

She urged journalists to continue to use their platforms to make a good impact in the country.

Presenting what has been learnt on the Solutions Journalism Africa Initiative, Mr Chibuike Alagboso, Senior Programme Manager, Nigeria Health Watch, said despite numerous social problems, things are still working in Nigeria.

Alagboso said that solutions journalism was vested in encouraging journalists to expend more energy pushing solutions rather than dwelling on problems.

“To drive the project initiative, we had newsroom and fellowship engagements, which involved field trips into areas where there were established problems in a bid to find how people are responding to the problems and what can be learnt from their experience.

“This project has made us understand that there are people responding to social problems. Let’s continue to find them and tell their stories so others can learn,” he said.

Speaking on the Future of Impactful Journalism: “The Roles of Solutions Journalism”, Mr Adedeji Adekule, Programme Director, Nigeria Media Innovative Programme, said that the Nigerian media horizon was growing and seemed to be undergoing restructuring with different media springing up.

Adekule said that the currency of a media organisation was its audience.

“Solution stories add more value and increase engagement.

“As a journalist, you should not be one-dimensional, your stories must be well-balanced, and Solutions journalism is a good way to start,” he said.

Mr Ismail Abdulaziz., Senior Editor, NAN, said that solutions journalism pioneered extensive story writing with the introduction of its four pillars.

Abdulaziz said that the solutions highlighted in the stories always give a sense of satisfaction as a journalist.

“This is helping to address the predominant trend of problem-focused reporting that is contributing to news avoidance by the audience.

VMT NEWS recalled that the event featured conversations with leaders and the journalists who participated in the project.

The official reports and story dashboard featuring the project story outputs were also launched during the event and featured an exhibition of the stories.

The event provided an informal platform for participants to engage, network and share ideas around propagating solutions journalism across Nigeria.

Solutions Journalism is key instrument in changing the narrative – Ihekweazu

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