Njideka Agbo holds a Master’s degree in Print Journalism and Political Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She has been an editor at The Guardian for over a year. When she is not working, she is either catching up with her friends, her family – particularly her twin, or doing new research. And oooh, she loves love stories. Ayiba’s Precious Obiabunmo had a chat with her over the weekend about her job as an Editor and her perspective regarding press freedom and the Western media’s view on Africa.
What motivated you to become a journalist?
My passion for research. One of the things that define who a journalist is, is the ability to investigate. And investigation is technically research. I knew I didn’t want to join academia, but I wanted to present my ideas in well-researched articles. Journalism opened me up to even more possibilities than I ever imagined.
How did you become an Editor at Guardian Nigeria?
As the only writer to appear in the top three digital categories of The Guardian Nigerian the year before, my consistent performance allowed me to gain this position. I always strive to do my best and to ensure that the best outcome is achieved from my efforts. I believe management saw the results of my work ethic and saw it fitting to give me the position of Editor.
What’s your favourite piece so far?
I really love the piece “Are You Badder Than The Nigerian Senator?” because it was my first time trying out satire. I remember laughing and getting excited after it got the same reception from our readers. The government at that time did not think it was funny, and that even made it funnier.
What advice do you have for someone trying to break into the Nigerian journalism scene?
Think of journalism as a marketplace. There are many people selling the same thing. Yet, amid these people are those who seem to have the largest customers. Their secret is not far-fetched: there is a uniqueness to what they are doing to attract customers. As a journalist, find out what gap there is among those giving out the same information. Leverage on it and watch the sky become your starting point.
Have you ever encountered any challenges regarding press freedom? Do you ever feel the pressure to alter the tone of your stories?
Sure! As a member of the “Fourth Estate of The Realm” and the uniqueness of the type of government we practise in Nigeria, it is not unusual to be placed in this situation. However, the good thing is that The Guardian’s motto, “Conscience, Nurtured by Truth” will always prevail.
In your opinion, do Western reporters really get it wrong when they report on Africa?
Of course, poverty porn and white saviour complex still sell in the western media. Even in the simplest things like identifying the African man as a fraud when he is on the losing end and as a Westerner (if he is a dual citizen) when he has a win. This gives you a glimpse of how much the Western media tries to portray Africans and blacks all over the world. I believe the most important question should be:
“Are we doing enough to change the narrative or are we pushing the same narrative because bad news and stereotypes sell and are easier to promote?”