“The Essence of a Journalist is to be a Change Agent” – Henrietta

Henrietta Ibrahim is the General Manager of Radio Nigeria Highland 101.5 FM Jos. With over 20 years’ experience as a journalist, she has served with mixed feelings of immense joy, frustration, fear, but most of all satisfaction especially when her reports brought succour for others; which has been her thrust. She speaks to AMDF on her experience thus far and the practice at large.

 

 

Kindly introduce yourself (bio data, background, place of practice etc)

My name is Henrietta Ibrahim from Plateau State.  My elementary education started a bit too early then, at 5 years because my mother was a teacher. She used to take me with her to school and I was allowed to join those in primary one. The joke in the house is I repeated primary one three times.

 

Anyway, my primary education was split between schools in Nigeria and America. I got my GCE certificate from Govt. College Bokkos Plateau State North Central Nigera; NCE, from College of Education Akwanga, Nasarawa State , BA from University of Maiduguri, Borno State and Msc from University of Jos, Plateau State (With long and short courses within and outside the country thrown in between).

 

I did my NYSC with the Network News Directorate of Radio Nigeria (1997 -1998) after which I was retained and have been with them till date with a break from January 2006 to February 2007.

 

I have been a field reporter, Head of Human Rights Desk (A desk I co-set up), Network News Editor. Currently I am the General Manager of Radio Nigeria Highland 101.5 FM Jos.

 

Experience in journalism

My experiences have been diverse. This is due to the different subjects I have covered as a Journalist. There have been the feelings of immense joy, frustration, fear, but most of all satisfaction especially when my work was able to provide succor for others.

 

What are your interests and how has practicing satisfied these?

When I first started in the field of Journalism I told myself one thing. “Any day I go to work and I don’t learn something new or impact on someone’s life or both, it is time to pack up”. Why? Because the essence of a journalist is to be a change agent and you cannot be such if you are not open to change. This principle led or should I say guided my interest towards human rights.

 

All my work on the Human Rights Desk was geared towards achieving that principle. Even now as head of Station, I am known for always asking, where is fair play in your action or report?

 

What constraints make your job more difficult?

Finance is the major constraint. This is closely followed by house style and political will of the organisation.

 

Could you please compare the practice years ago and what is obtainable now?

Investigative journalism came naturally in the past but today’s journalists, despite all the trainings available, very few concerns themselves with investigating a story. They go home satisfied with covering events which is clearly Intellectual laziness.

 

What’s your take on Journalism standard and press freedom in your country and Africa at large?

Standards are a constant with review as times move on; freedom however, is a relative term. Some countries pay lip service to the term press freedom. We are all witnesses to how Media Houses are being clamped down by the military in a democratic era. We have heard about journalist being on the run because of threat to their lives for exposing corruption in the system.

 

I am not saying this applies to all because some journalists to go contrary to set standards and abuse the so-called freedom of expression.

 

Looking at professionalism and ethics, what could be done to maintain best practices in the region?

Most African Countries have opened up the sector and allowed for private sector participation. Good move, but the down side is some of the philosophy behind these private establishments. Two is the poor pay package of media workers. Those with weak morals find it challenging to balance their pockets with the ethic of the profession.

 

Three, everyone is a reporter (with or without an outfit) most of those in the field have no training in the profession. They have found their ways into it as a means to put food on their tables. As far as this group is concerned, they know nothing about any ethics. Anyone who has practiced in Abuja is conversant with the term, “PC-PC” journalist. While those in the states hide under the guise of “Correspondent Chapels”.

 

The emergence of the internet provides a great opportunity for media development and a daunting challenge to best practices in journalism, what’s your take?

To every change there is a down side. One way of ensuring that Nigeria enjoys the benefits of this emerging trend is to; just as it is done for the traditional media, put in place the right legislations and regulatory bodies.  Create a platform for checks and balances.

 

What is the most important thing an upcoming journalist should know?

An upcoming journalist should be focused. Be up to date in knowledge. Set goals and strive to achieve them. Give timeline and always look back. Never throw away their jotters.

 

What sacrifices have you had to make to succeed in the field of journalism, and do you feel the sacrifices were worth it?

Sometimes your personal life has to take a back seat. So, it has impacted negatively on my relationships and family time.

 

Any regrets being a journalist?

None whatsoever!

 

 

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