The inaugural convention hopes to convey journalists, policymakers, digital technologists, innovators and others to debate points that have an effect on journalism and the media in West Africa.
Busola Ajibola of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) is main the workforce organising the West African Journalism Innovation Convention (WAJIC).
The inaugural convention hopes to convey journalists, policymakers, digital technologists, innovators and others to debate points that have an effect on journalism and the media in West Africa.
Mrs Ajibola talks to PREMIUM TIMES concerning the convention, why CJID is organising it and what it hopes to attain.
PT: Your organisation is attempting to do one thing no medium in West Africa has ever carried out: bringing West African journalists collectively for a convention on journalism innovation. Inform us what the convention is predicted to attain.
Busola: Sure, thanks a lot. Certainly we’re organising the West African Journalism Innovation Convention that we name WAJIC and sure it is the primary of its form in West Africa and it appears it should convey collectively journalists, know-how specialists that embrace specialists within the subject of AI (Synthetic Intelligence), different types of digital improvements to simply come collectively and talk about the intersection between journalism, innovation, synthetic intelligence and different types of know-how.
Now, somebody might marvel why that sort of convening is necessary. It is necessary as a result of I prefer to assume that we’re approaching what some individuals would discuss with because the fourth industrial revolution and a really distinguished function of that world or that future is innovation and synthetic intelligence.
So there’s been, you already know, whispers, silent worries about how synthetic intelligence, for instance, impacts the work that we do as journalists and you already know, inside different media areas.
That convention seeks that will help you ask these questions that maybe have by no means been requested boldly directly and supply solutions to them. So, we will be looking for the place of journalism inside all of this evolution.
What abilities do journalists must arm themselves with to reposition themselves, to ensure that they continue to be related? Is the concern of disruptions, concerning the work that we do, is it actual? Whether it is actual, how will we deal with it? So yeah, I believe amongst a number of different issues, that is what WAJIC is all about.
PT: How lengthy have you ever been planning WAJIC? I ask this in relation to the truth that President Bola Tinubu has simply been appointed the top of ECOWAS in West Africa. Is there any relationship between the 2?
Busola: I might prefer to say no. Truthfully, that is a coincidence. As a result of I believe the primary time we muted the concept of WAJIC was at our annual retreat which was held this 12 months; that was in January; you already know the place we have been discussing digital improvements.
As you’ll know, the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Growth is a frontrunner inside the think-tank house for media. What we do is assume for the media, assume for journalism and it simply occurred to us that that is one thing that we needs to be exploring, that intersection between innovation and journalism and know-how.
That is one thing that individuals do not discuss a lot, it isn’t within the open. We have not convened all of the voices that matter to deliberate about how we place ourselves.
So it is good that the president, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has now been appointed as the top of ECOWAS. So I believe it solely reinforces what we have now been occupied with. And as you already know, our work at CJID isn’t restricted to Nigeria.
We’re operational in Ghana, within the Gambia, in Sierra Leone, in Liberia and naturally, we’re headquartered in Nigeria. So what it means is that our considering and our strategic planning the place journalism and growth are involved is at all times about all these different nations inside West Africa. So, yeah, it is good that Nigeria itself is plugging in into the best way CJID is considering.
PT: That is good to listen to. However then, nonetheless taking a look at your purpose to your West African convention, one would marvel how you intend to handle variety, particularly in relation to language. The vast majority of the West African nations are francophone. How do you intend to handle that at such a convention?
Busola: Effectively, as a result of that is the primary of its form, the company lingua we’re adopting for this convention is especially English however we’re already attempting to see how we are able to make preparations for translators. As a result of we have got functions from Lomé, from Uganda, from Benin Republic.
We in all probability would have a crop of people from these different nations as effectively becoming a member of us. So there are going to be preparations for translators who would then assist to relay these conversations in a language that delegates from these nations can relate with.
PT: Okay; does that imply you expect delegates from totally different West African nations?
PT: Speaking about your primary focus: journalism innovation; some might argue that what journalism wants extra right now is finance and sustainability however you look like specializing in the community between journalism innovation and growth. Is there any a part of the convention that’s associated to journalism financing?
Busola: I believe one of many pathways to resolving the problem of sustainability that the media is confronted with can be innovation. So like we wish to say, journalism has to proceed to reinvent itself for it to proceed to be related.
One of many panel periods that we will be having and that’s going to be moderated by the Editor-In-Chief of PREMIUM TIMES, Musikilu Mojeed, with different media entrepreneurs, is specializing in the problem of accountability journalism and sustainability.
They’d be discussing that nexus between the values of the mannequin of funding which raises questions on ethics, the career itself and values which talks concerning the problem of income and revenue. And I believe many of the periods that we have now for WAJIC, by hook or by crook, whether or not those which are speaking about synthetic intelligence and the way forward for journalism, digital improvements, there is a dialog between Dapo Oloruyomi and Richard Gingras of Google; all are going to be addressing that problem of sustainability for the media as a result of we can not even start to speak about journalism, its relevance, accountability inside democracy with out resolving the problem of the enterprise mannequin for journalism itself.
And over time, we have seen how digital – I am attempting to make certain that I am utilizing the correct phrases proper now, I do not wish to name them digital disruptions, proper, however perhaps for lack of higher phrases proper now let me simply say that is what they’re. So the arrival of those digital platforms and the way they disrupted the income mannequin for the media when it comes to adverts has constituted a really large pressure on the work that we do.
So it is good that we’re bringing anyone like Richard Gingras of Google to additionally come, and if they’re a part of the digital improvements that threaten the enterprise mannequin for journalism, they in all probability even have an thought of how we are able to undertake that very same digital revolution to resolve this problem of enterprise mannequin.
So WAJIC can be about how we leverage know-how. How will we leverage improvements to handle that problem of sustainability? As a result of the underside line is that if the media can not maintain itself, it can not carry out that accountability position that’s required for the well being of our democracy throughout West Africa.
PT: However many journalists would have a look at individuals like Richard of Google and say these are the people who find themselves really disrupting journalism, and you might be bringing him as one of many keynote audio system.
PT: Will you enable journalists to have the ability to ask him questions throughout his presentation as a result of I am positive there shall be journalists who will really feel there’s a chance to problem Google?
Busola: I really feel like proper now you are echoing what another journalists that I’ve had conversations with about WAJIC, you sort of echoed their ideas proper now. So, as I mentioned, digital revolution isn’t one thing we are able to run away from whether or not we prefer it or not. It has shaped a part of our realities and if anyone is doubtful simply have a look at what the tussle is correct now between Elon Musk and Zuckerberg.
So the best way to consider it’s how do we discover our personal place? How does journalism or media enterprise, how will we make sure that we discover a place for it inside all of those revolutions which are taking place?
So I believe that Richard Gingras goes to be there. We additionally produce other specialists inside the subject of know-how, inside the subject of synthetic intelligence, and inside academia who’re going to be speaking about what all of those disruptions imply.
Take a look at what is going on, I believe it is Australia, the place, I believe, platforms like Google at the moment are having to pay native information platforms for content material that they generate. Maybe that is the sort of dialog we needs to be having with platforms.
So, I’ve at all times fearful that journalists or newsrooms make investments a humongous amount of cash to fund investigations, typically run newsrooms and generate information content material. After which to sponsor these investigations which are within the curiosity of the general public, you must pay Fb, you must pay Twitter. I believe that’s worrisome and so proper now this sort of convention offers us a chance to start to throw up this sort of dialog. Who needs to be paying who? Ought to it’s journalists, after looking for all this funding to do this sort of story then paying the already wealthy platforms which are, within the first occasion, a part of the explanation why we’re right here; or ought to they be those not simply via funding fashions however income as a reliable income you already know offering sources for newsroom.
There’s additionally the fear for instance concerning the safety of on-line identities of newsrooms. I fear that for digital on-line or for digital information mediums, they exist on the whims and caprices of the likes of Fb and Twitter. So, if Twitter decides at this time to yank off the social media deal with of say PREMIUM TIMES, what does that imply for press freedom. What does that imply for the rights of the individuals to info, proper of entry to info. I am simply I am considering.
I don’t have all of the solutions about how these conversations would go however I believe that when and for all, we have now that chance to throw up all of those points. So, sure, journalists may even ship us their questions forward. A few of these questions will be despatched to [email protected]. You can too ship your inquiries to [email protected] in order that we are able to additionally ship these inquiries to a few of these panellists forward.
But when there has ever been a time when we have now the chance to discover this relationship between platforms, between improvements, between know-how and journalism and democratic accountability I believe this is likely one of the convening that enables us to attain that.
PT: I personally look ahead to it and I am positive many journalists and people who find themselves within the media could be. However then the subsequent query would then be, if you talked concerning the energy of social media and the affect they’ll have on media organisations, one facet of which might be authorities regulation. For instance, sooner or later, the Nigerian authorities suspended Twitter, together with for some media organisations. Will you be inviting authorities companies, and regulators to the convention?
Busola: We invited some regulatory our bodies. For instance, we invited the NBC. We invited the Nationwide Human Rights Fee; we invited the Ministry of Data, we additionally invited electoral our bodies from Nigeria, Ghana, from Sierra Leone.
We additionally invited leaders of our bodies that signify journalists, and we actually hope that the convention serves as a platform for deliberations, a platform to know the peculiarities of the challenges that confront us not simply as media however how our work pertains to the society itself. And we’re hoping that they’ll all be represented and that we get the chance to not simply deliberate collectively however arrive at motion factors that may transfer us all ahead.
PT: So, in all, you expect a whole bunch of a whole bunch of contributors, together with journalists, policymakers and the remainder, and you might be planning for a hybrid convention.
PT: How does this work in actuality?
Busola: As a lot as we might have liked to have perhaps hundreds of journalists in particular person taking part on this convention, this 12 months being the primary of its form, we’re capable of have about 350 taking part bodily right here in Abuja. Nonetheless, we have made the convention a hybrid one so you may take part from anyplace internationally. We’re not limiting the variety of individuals that may register to affix us just about, however these of us which are going to be bodily current on the Continental Resort in Abuja are about 350 individuals. And I believe the truth that it’s going to be a hybrid occasion offers that chance for everybody excited by this sort of dialog to take part. So I am enthusiastic about it.
I can not say that I do know the variety of individuals we should always anticipate from all our on-line contributors, however I actually am wanting ahead to a really spectacular variety of individuals becoming a member of us. So, will probably be livestreamed on all of our social media platforms, and we’re additionally connecting with different media organisations to stream it dwell for many who is not going to be within the room to affix us just about.
PT: All these talks get to the difficulty of planning. So we’re bringing about 350 contributors from throughout West Africa – internationally however primarily from West Africa – to Abuja to take part on this energetic dialogue. How are you funding this?
Busola: A really large thank you would need to go to the MacArthur Basis for the superb work that they’re doing to assist journalism in Africa, to assist transparency and accountability not simply in public areas however even in non-public areas. So, one in all our notable funders for this occasion is the MacArthur Basis, however we are also very grateful to organisations just like the HBS, Henrich Boll Basis.
The truth is, I forgot to speak about our artwork exhibition. So, the arrival date goes to function a really, very great expertise, that is on 24 July. On the night of arrival, between 6 p.m. and eight p.m., we’re once more, for the primary time, utilizing arts to visualise the difficulty of security of journalists, and that speaks to the work that we do on the CJID.
I wish to offer you a context. Final 12 months, we tracked about 54 assaults in opposition to journalists in Nigeria. Now, this 12 months, between January and June, we have tracked 79 and a few of these assaults embrace incarceration. They embrace bodily assaults the place journalists are overwhelmed up, the place there’s blood throughout their our bodies, and the place their gear is broken. Typically, it is a denial of data. There’s the rising development of SLAPPs, you already know, Strategic Litigation Towards Public Participation.
It is worrying that these are methods of censoring, not simply censoring the media however making the work that journalists do harder. What’s extra worrying is the shortage of accountability and the impunity that the perpetrators of this violence get pleasure from.
So, in a democracy, you already know you’ll anticipate that the place the correct of a citizen is expounded, that you already know that there is some type of prosecution and a few type of punishment to function deterrence proper? It ought to even be extra necessary when it’s the journalist whose work borders round public curiosity and public functions. Not in a single occasion, and I’ve mentioned this on a number of different media platforms and I hope those that have some position to play are listening and they’re paying consideration – not in a single occasion for instance in instances of journalists which have been killed in the midst of their work, has any prosecution taken place.
We have tried to make use of information to inform the story. We have tried to make use of phrases and texts to inform the tales. We’re not getting the sort of responses that we wish. So, for the primary time, we’re utilizing arts, visible arts, and we’re partnering with the Society of Nigerian Artists, Abuja Chapter, to organise this artwork exhibition now because of the violations of journalists’ rights.
We even have problems with trauma. A journalist that’s violated, that’s overwhelmed up, is traumatised and unable to do this work as successfully as they need to. So on the CJID, we have over time needed to assist a really massive variety of journalists on social helps, and sadly, it is one facet of our work that we have not been capable of get any assist for when it comes to funding.
So we’re additionally utilizing that artwork exhibition as a method of fundraising solely devoted to offering psychosocial intervention for journalists who’re traumatised. We hope that it is one thing that we are able to scale for journalists. I believe we have additionally supported journalists from Ghana sooner or later, however we actually hope that it is one thing that we are able to scale for journalists throughout West Africa to profit from.
So, for the artwork exhibition, you need to RSVP by the best way, strictly by invitation.
PT: If you do not have cash, you are not going to attend?
Busola: Effectively, the great factor is that we’re leaving the exhibition all through the convention. So if you aren’t getting to take part on the day of arrival if you come on the twenty fifth and the twenty sixth, you continue to get to view the artworks. We’re additionally going to be auctioning paintings so individuals can purchase and when they aren’t shopping for they’ll donate to the trigger. It is an expertise itself and I’m wanting ahead to it and I hope the general public can be.
PT: Nonetheless on the difficulty of funding, we have talked concerning the digital platforms which are basically taking all the cash away from the media. One would anticipate that platforms like Google and Fb shall be excited by sponsoring a convention like this. Did you attain out to them? Why are they not placing their cash in conferences like this?
Busola: Sure, we did attain out to them. As of now, we have now not gotten any phrase from them to provide us monetary assist for WAJIC. But it surely’s not too late. No person is aware of what would occur. We nonetheless have about 9 days to WAJIC. We hope that we are able to nonetheless get some miracles.
PT: The opposite facet of that query would then be, for a convention that’s centered on West Africa, that may possible, at least, contribute to the event of democracy via journalism within the subcontinent, why are there no native sponsors. Why is it MacArthur and Henrich Boll Basis, Are you reaching out to them? What are they saying?
Busola: Sure. At the very least, we reached out to Dangote Basis, we have reached out to BUA, we reached out to the Danjuma Basis and a number of different diplomatic communities.
Like I mentioned, WAJIC continues to be 9 days away, and I don’t wish to begin with pessimism. I and my workforce on the CJID are very hopeful that we’ll nonetheless get to listen to from this native organisations and we actually hope that they see the relevance of this.
It’s the wheels within the cycle that runs our society when it comes to transparency, when it comes to accountability, actually when it comes to options.
Maybe when this understanding turns into very clear, even native organisations will see a purpose why this sort of convening is essential and why they need to be part of it. It is also that as a result of that is the primary of its form and so they’re simply listening to about WAJIC. However I’m hopeful that maybe this dialog will get to them.