The Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) on Thursday in Abuja held a campus journalism award ceremony to celebrate student reporters across the nation.
The awards were named in honour of the late Alfred Opubor for his pioneering contributions to journalism in Nigeria.
Mr Opubor was the first Nigerian professor who served at the Department of Mass Communication at the University Of Lagos (UNILAG).
Speaking at the event, the Publisher of PREMIUM TIMES, Dapo Olorunyomi, while welcoming the attendees, said Mr Opubor helped in establishing the journalism programme in UNILAG.
He said PTCIJ was trying to renew the whole idea of storytelling and how stories are redistributed.
“We realise that there were clashes between the teachings in the classrooms and what is happening in the newsroom. There was lack of resources to the job and for you to be able to do journalism, you need resources,” he said.
Mr Olorunyomi said the establishment of PREMIUM TIMES was a response to the ethical challenges within the Nigerian media industry.
“I particularly commend the Editor-In-Chief, Musikilu Mojeed, for his commitment to the job and his belief in revolutionalising journalism,” he said.
Similarly, the general manager, Capital FM, Mercy Njoku said “young minds need to understand the term ‘responsible journalism’ because some journalists practice irresponsible journalism.”
She said young Nigerians should know that journalism should be fact-based and not be used for profiling. She urged journalists to desist from using their platforms as tools for blackmail.
Ms Njoku admitted that many journalists are poorly paid which can cause a lot of misconduct in the course of work.
“When journalists are diligent, hardworking and creative, they will go places. In whatever you do, you are setting up your testimonials,” she said
Seven categories of awards were given out: Best Opinion Piece; Best Community Journalism Story; Best Investigative Story; Most Prolific Writer; Most Active Campus; Best Female Campus Reporter; and Best Male Campus reporter
Adejumo Kabir, a 300 level student of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) who won three awards expressed his gratitude to PTCIJ for the honour at the event and for the opportunity to be trained under the campus reporters’ framework.
He said the award will encourage him to write without fear or favour for the promotion of the welfare of students and the community at large.
Mr Adejumo won the awards for the best investigative story, “Nigerian University website hacked”, most prolific campus reporter and best male campus journalist.
The best opinion piece award was given to Adekunle Adebajo of University of Ibadan for the story ”Nigerian Tertiary Institutions: An Endangered Species Under the 2018 budget” while the best community journalism story award was won by Chiamaka Okafor from the Nnamdi Azikwe University for the story, “UNIZIK community laments 21- Day power outage.”
Ms Okafor also won the best female campus reporter award.
While speaking on the grading of the awards, one of the judges, the Editor of Sahara Reporters, Fisayo Soyombo, said he is encouraged by the calibre of people seeking to study journalism.
“A lot of times, I fear for the future of this profession but with these student journalists, I have hope for the future,” he said.
Other judges included Mahmud Jega of Daily Trust, Motunrayo Alaka of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism; Chido Onumah of the Africa Centre for Media and Information Literacy and Lanre Arogundade of the International Press Centre.
Akin Akinbulu, the Executive Director, Institute of Media and Society and Lekan Otufodunrin, editor of the Nation Newspaper, received special recognition awards for their contributions to journalism in Nigeria.
The programme was actively supported by the Ford Foundation and executed in partnership with the National Union of Campus Journalists.