Impact Of Media Training On Extractive Sector Reporting In Nigeria

Nigeria is  Africa’s biggest oil producer, the world’s eighth-largest crude oil exporter, and of the top 11 countries with the largest oil reserves. However, these metrics are not reflected in the socioeconomic state of the country. To illustrate this point, the World poverty clock reported that the poverty line in Nigeria is extremely high, with around half of the population living on less than $1 per day. 

A key challenge in Nigeria’s extractive sector is the limited transparency from the government, which obscures the mismanagement of funds, revenue leakages, and the inability of the government to meet financial obligations. The country’s high poverty rate results from poor resource management and corruption in the extractive industry.

With the heightened rate of corruption cases and shrouded opacity of the extractive sector, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), media, and citizens are constrained and demoralised in their reform demands. Several organisations have combined data analysis tools, technology use, and capacity building for journalists in response to the extractive sector’s challenges.

This blog summarises our learnings from the research study on the efficacy of media training in covering extractive-linked corruption in Nigeria.

About the research study conducted by the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development on the efficacy of media training in covering extractive-linked corruption in Nigeria.

The Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) believes a well-functioning and informed media is imperative to development in Nigeria.  Investigative journalism can do more to push for development and ensure transparency in extractive operations in Nigeria. 

This study focuses on the role of media training and capacity-building for journalists reporting on Nigeria’s extractive sector.

This study sought to answer the following questions; 

  • How effective is media training in journalists’ understanding of extractive issues?
  • What are the challenges journalists face in covering the extractive industry?
  • How can the partnership between CSOs and media organisations drive the impact of investigative journalism?

This research used a mixed methods design, which included key informant interviews with 10 media and CSO stakeholders, an online survey for journalists, and focus group discussions with newsroom managers. 

 The State Of Media Training In Nigeria

A 2020 report titled  “Mapping Journalism Training Centres in sub-Saharan Africa” showed that journalism training and education in sub-Saharan Africa are flourishing, noting that there are 66 centres are offering educational opportunities. 

The media plays a crucial role in ensuring transparency and accountability in the extractive sector with investigations, stimulation of public debates, policy reforms, and prosecution of corrupt officials. However, one major challenge to reporting is the availability and access to data, further compounded by the need for more capacity to analyse data.

In the past few years, Nigeria has witnessed a significant rise in the practice of in-depth investigative journalism due to efforts by reputable organisations such as the Centre for Journalism, Innovation, and Development to expand journalists’ capacity. Other Organizations such as BudgIT, Dataphyte, and the Natural Resource Governance Institute have all played a role in providing media training for Journalists. 

 Survey Methodology

CJID has trained over 500 Nigerian Journalists in the oil sector in the last seven years. As a follow-up to these media trainings across Nigeria, this study seeks to assess how participants of the trainings have been empowered to cover extractive-linked corruption. 

In the collection stage, CJID created and distributed an online survey among Nigerian media, receiving one hundred and fifty-five replies in the space of five weeks from more than twelve newsrooms. More than half of the respondents (56%)  were between the ages of 25 and 34, and 21% were between the ages of 35 and 44, and 14% were between the ages of 18 and 24. 

About two-thirds of the respondents were male, while the remaining one-third were females. When CJID asked respondents about their job, the majority listed themselves as reporters, followed by editors, researchers, and program officers. A post-training survey indicated that just over a third of the respondents had participated in extractive sector reporting. 

Overview of the impact of media training on extractive sector transparency and accountability 

More than half of the respondents also believed that the curriculum used for training sessions was professionally designed. However, only a quarter believed that the training made them better reporters, which could result from a lack of funding to aid journalists in applying their training. 

Almost half of the respondents believed that the editorial mentors assigned to them helped improve their capacity, which is already standard and beneficial practice in media training in Nigeria. 

CJID Carried Out Interviews And Focus Group Discussions

Interviews and focus group discussions were conducted to support the survey results further.

CJID conducted ten interviews between December 2021 and January 2022 with selected experts from media organisations, CSOs, newsroom managers, and editors working in the extractive sector.

The interviews aimed to solicit perspectives on extractive sector reporting, the challenges in the sector, and the way forward for impact.

On the 2nd March 2022, focus group discussions were held with newsroom managers and editors, from which the key takeaways are listed below. 

The Importance Of Training And Key Messages Captured

From the interview and focus group discussions, experts agreed that trainings were important for effectively reporting the extractive sector in Nigeria. They highlighted that as a result of training, there were improvements in the coverage of the extractive sector compared to five to ten years ago. 

Why Do Trained Journalists Delay In Producing Extractive Sector Reports After Being Trained?

Based on the results of the survey as well as CJID’s prior experience with journalists, we noted that several journalists who received funding pursue story ideas often delayed or defaulted in their delivery. This was likely due to the lack of financial resources and the inability to access data, documents, and resources needed to prosecute stories in the sector.

How Can We Overcome Challenges To Ensure Coverage Of Nigeria’s Extractive Sector Has A Clear Impact? 

Respondents felt the era of reporting solely for only accountability was over. Many felt it was time to focus on action-oriented training for journalists, editors, managers, and publishers. 

Furthermore, more comprehensive reporting by journalists requires a higher level of understanding at the editorial level. They also thought that the editor-in-chiefs needed to be more competent. 

One expert also suggested that the duration of time allotted for a story should be reconsidered. Given the opacity and volatility of the sector, more time was needed to infiltrate and learn about the systems. As one participant said: “Certain stories require more time, but it’s also often problematic how to use those abilities in other ways rather than just focusing on one story.” An analysis of the interviews also revealed that years of coverage of the Nigerian commodities sector had focused solely on a sub-sector, primarily oil and gas. Reporting on other sectors is generally even more difficult.

Collaboration As The Future Of Impactful Journalism 

Media experts also recommended that efforts to train journalists on extractive sector reporting should consider collaborative reporting rather than siloing journalists. Also, civil society organisations agreed that they needed to work more closely together because it was easier to move forward together than as a single entity. Research topics must be highlighted and actively collaborated with CSOs, citizens, and others. 

Moving forward

The following recommendations were made; 

  • It is recommended that for effective reporting of the extractive sector, it is important to create a dedicated desk in newsrooms solely for extractive sector reporting, making it easier to deploy resources for coverage.
  •  The partnership between media and CSOs must be strengthened. 
  •  It is also important for new entrants to be trained and mentored by training organisations.
  • There should be an allocation of funding to newsrooms. 

This blog post was co-authored by the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development and Results for Development as part of R4D’s Leveraging Transparency to Reduce Corruption Program (LTRC).

To learn more about the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development’s research on the efficacy of media training in covering extractive-linked corruption, visit our website.