In 1605, Johann Carolus of Germany published the first newspaper –Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien (Account of all distinguished and commemorable news). Two centuries later, the first indigenous newspaper in Africa and first in Nigeria Iwe Irohin was published by Christian missionary, Henry Townsend in 1859.
Iwe Irohin was quickly followed by the Lagos Times and Gold Coast Advertiser, The West African Pilot and many others. As the newspapers sprang up around the colony that came to be known as Nigeria, so did journalists and thus the profession of journalism sank its roots into Nigeria.
Early Nigerian journalists, recognizing the important duty of keeping the populace informed and educated about the activities of the government went to work immediately. It is a known fact that one of the effective instruments early nationalists used in tackling the colonial government was journalism.
Nnamdi Azikiwe’s West African Pilot was dedicated to fighting for Nigeria’s independence from the colonial government, while The Lagos Times and Gold Coast Advertiser was the first to publicly call out the colonial government for its extravagance in one of its editions of 1881.
Decades after nationalists wrestled the colonial government through journalism, the noble profession has been dragged through the mud. The causes for the decline of journalism in Nigeria range from the descent of the country into military dictatorship, the poor standard of education in Nigeria which in turn led to half-baked journalists released into the profession, and the advent of social media.
Social media saw to the rise of untrained citizen journalists and brought the sale of Newspapers to an all-time low which has resulted in many media houses unable to pay salaries to their staff.
The rise in the number of unprofessional and ‘brown envelope’ motivated journalists is a direct consequence of all the issues that bedeviled the profession. This has resulted in the troubling level of poor quality reporting seen in the country and the migration of hardworking intelligent journalists to other lucrative professions.
This anomaly with the practice of journalism in Nigeria is what led global professional services firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, (PwC), to establish the Annual Capability Enhancement Workshop targeted at journalists who work in traditional and new media to enhance their capacity and improve the overall quality and practice of journalism in Nigeria.
PwC took it upon itself to partner with the media because there is a strong bond between the media’s role and PwC’s purpose “ to build trust in society and solve important problems,” especially against the backdrop of issues relating to corruption and lack of trust for governance at all levels in the country.
In addition to the Capacity Enhancement Workshop, PwC also established an annual Media Excellence Awards in 2016 to acknowledge and reward excellent business reporters.
The Award is open to professional journalists in full-time employment or freelancers working in Nigeria, who have produced distinct, well researched stories in the following categories: Tax, Capital Markets, SMEs, and Business & Economy reporting. Such stories must be available on a platform whose primary audience is Nigeria. Although the cash prize (N500, 000) serves as a reward for their dedication and hard work, the winners testify to feeling a sense of accomplishment and experiencing a surge in their careers because of the recognition by a globally renowned firm such as PwC.
In the first year of the Awards, over 60 entries were submitted for the various categories covered by the Award. Anthony Matuluko, Abiodun Eromosele, Eromo Egbejule and Fisayo Soyombo won the tax, capital market, SMEs, and ‘Business & Economy’ categories respectively.
This year, Victor Ekwealor of Techpoint.ng won the Business and Economy category with his story Can technology help dried fish nourish the Nigerian economy?, Nnorom Nkiruka of The Vanguard, won the Capital Market prize with her Furore over the conversation of dollar debt to equity. Isaac Anyaogu of Businessday, who was shortlisted for two other categories emerged tops in the SMEs category with his Pennies for a piece of the sun, while Collins Nweze of The Nation, went home with the Tax prize for his story titled Taxation: endless games, endless controversies. The awards were presented at a gala night held in Lagos during which the winners were presented with their cash prizes.
Competition in any industry, puts people on their toes and encourages them to be better at what they do. Judges for this year’s Awards received over 150 entries and also affirmed to the improved quality of articles and videos submitted for the Awards. The PwC Media Excellence Awards is a well thought out initiative that if continued has the potential to improve the overall quality of reporting in Nigeria.