Journalism : Four lessons from my over 30 years career

Journalism : Four lessons from my over 30 years career



Necessary education and internship matters

From my secondary school days, I had flair for writing and reading and was appointed Library prefect and Editor at the Government College, Ibadan where I obtained my Higher School Certificate.

Reading Mass Communication at the University of Lagos however prepared me very well for my journalism career. Our lecturers had adequate practical and academic knowledge that inspired me in many ways.

I was a campus journalist, news editor of the department’s newspaper, UNILAG SUN and Editor of the student’s journal, COMMUNICATOR.

I had my internship at the defunct Concord Newspapers with many published stories, including on the front and back pages. I also sent opinion articles and other reports to other papers which were published.

During my national service in the old Sokoto state in 1985, I was the editor of the monthly bulletin and the annual magazine.

All these pre-graduation experience gave me an edge during my job search, especially at The Punch where I was employed as a State Correspondent, a position usually meant for experienced reporters.


Mastery of the job will take you far

Like in every other job, mastery of necessary skills is the key to success. I have always done my best to know what I need to know about being a journalist to reckon with.

Covering a whole state as my first job was a tough one as a fresh graduate, but I took time to learn from colleagues who have been on the job long before me. I asked the necessary questions, mastered the job and exceeded expectations.

In acknowledgement of the good work I was said to have done, I was transferred to the headquarters to join the Political desk and thereafter there was no stopping me.

I eventually became the head of the desk, promoted Assistant News Editor, Group News Editor and even acted in the absence of the Saturday Editor until I resigned in 1999.

After various brief stints in some newspapers along with running my media projects (Journalists for Christ and Media Career Services) I got an offer as Sunday Editor of the defunct Comet Newspaper and later Nation before my present assignment as Managing Editor, Online and Special Publications.

Being Online Editor has required a lot of new learning after decades of being a traditional journalist, but I am no longer a learner.


Fellowships and conferences are yours

In the absence regular on-the-job training, I have taken advantage of various opportunities for local and international media fellowships and conferences which have given me a lot of exposure to best practices in the profession.

I can boldly claim to be an international journalist with wide networks globally in the various countries I have visited which I didn’t have to pay for.

In 1998 I was in Cardiff, UK at Thomson Foundation for a three-month Advanced Journalism course where I caught the bug of media career development which I have been advocating for and promoting for years and hopefully will soon take up as a full time work.

My selection for the Thomson Foundation programme confirmed to me that whatever one can dream and work hard at can be achieved. Imagine me who before then had not travelled outside the country getting a three-month all expenses trip.


I have participated in many others including another dream come true one to Poynter Institute for Journalists in in the United States.


Integrity is key

At every stage of my career, I have always ensured that I don’t do anything that can call my integrity to question. I do my best to abide by the ethics of the profession which among others require that I am truthful, fair and balance in whatever I put my byline to or approve for publication.

My goal has always been that wherever my name is mentioned as a journalist, it should be noted for being my commitment for best practices.

A number of the opportunities that have come my way, including full and part-time job offers, awards, speaking engagements have been based on the good impression people have about me and my work.

I may not have made as much money as some other colleagues may have, but good name like they say is worth much more than what money can buy.


Lekan Otufodunrin

Journalist. Media Career Development Specialist. Online Editor. Media Consultant. Media Trainer

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