“Mass Comm ai kwas din mata ne” (Mass communications is a course for women), was a common adage we used to hear in our secondary school days. I can vividly remember the story one of my friends told me when I said I was going to study Mass Communications. He told me the story of a father who said he would rather his son or daughter become a street hawker than study Mass Communications. Many parents assumed that for a child to be successful, he has to study Medicine or Engineering or Law or Pharmacy or Accounting or Economics or Business administration and so forth …
Then the same people who castigate certain course of study will remain glued to their radio to listen to the announcement for the siting of the moon of Ramadan, in the morning the same father will either pick a copy of any of the Guardian, New Nigerian, Daily Trust, Punch, and in recent years Leadership, Blueprint and People’s Daily to find out what is happening in Nigeria and around the world. In fact, if he has some shares in companies, he would monitor the pages in these newspapers that provide up-to-date information about the value of shares in different financial institutions. At 9: 00 p.m. it is almost mandatory that every member of the household would leave the sitting area for the Oga at the top to watch NTA news. When there is crises in the middle east like the Gulf War, popularly known in northern Nigeria as yakin tekun fasha, he quickly switches to radio Kaduna to listen to Duniya ina Labari and hear how Abubakar Jidda Usman provides analysis of the war with such oratory and analytical prowess. In fact while Uwargida (the chief or head wife) is preparing breakfast, his attention is divided between the food and the vibration of the voice of Usman Muhammad, Isa Abba Adamu or Saleh Halliru of the BBC Hausa service, or Kabiru Fagge and Halima Djimrou of VOA, or Deutche Welle’s Ado Gwadabe, most of them retired but not tired broadcasters.
In fact, the same man discouraging his children from studying Mass Communication and other journalism courses forgets that the first president of Nigeria, Dr Nnamdi Azikwe, the likes of Alhaji Abdullateef Jakande, Alhaji Magaji Dambatta, Alhaji Abubakar Imam, Ahaji Abubakar Rimi, Chief Segun Osoba and many more at one point or another worked as journalists.
After joining the university, one discovers an amazing trend: the interest by students from English Language, Sociology, Political Science, Islamic Studies, Library Science and History, rushing to take courses in Mass Communications, and not all of these people are women. Then one begins to think that, there must be something in this course that is attracting people, and the answer is not far from us, it is simply marketability. Almost every state in Nigeria has a radio and television station, and perhaps a newspaper. At the federal level you have NTA and FRCN. Lagos is the hub of the newspaper industry with various newspapers and magazines. But this is just part of the story; almost every government parastatal has a public relations unit, the banks and other financial institutions have corporate communication departments, even in the military era, the governors, the president, the ministers have press secretaries, and having the word Mass Communication on your certificate helps in turning your qualification into a meal ticket in a market congested with university graduates searching for jobs. In fact, my teacher Malam Jibrin Ali Giginyu, formerly of the Triumph newspapers used to say, journalism is too large to be filled by mass communication graduates only.
But what is the purpose of this long tale. It is simple: irrespective of what you think of journalism, it is a profession that provides job opportunities, and it is when the best, the honest and the brightest refuse to study or practices it that others join to spoil the show. Beyond the traditional journalism practices of working in print and broadcast media, there are other opportunities locally and internationally. And in this series, I will mention some of those areas that might be of interest to students of Mass Communication and Journalism, and those who might want to venture into this profession. What are the basic things you need to do to secure a job? What are the opportunities out there, but that only few people can grab, and how can you improve your skills so as to make it difficult for employers to overlook your CV?
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