U.S Consul General F. John Bray Opening Remarks VOA Journalism Training – Lagos

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Welcome and thank you all for being here today. It is exciting to see such strong interest in deepening and broadening your skills as journalists.

I want to express my deep appreciation to our workshop trainers: Senior Investigative Analyst Jeffrey Young and Digital Managing Editor Kathleen Struck for accepting our invitation to come to Nigeria to facilitate this workshop and share their expertise gained from decades of experience in journalism.

Jeff and Kathleen are seasoned journalism trainers from the Voice of America in Washington D.C. It is heartwarming to learn that Jeff and Kathleen will also be facilitating a similar workshop in Port Harcourt later this week for the benefit of your colleagues in the south east and south south regions.

During this two-day intensive workshop, they will take turns in exposing you to some tips in investigative journalism, data mining, tools for media fact-checking, and use of mobile devices for newsgathering and reporting.

As a former journalist, I understand that your work as a reporter carries a tremendous amount of responsibility. As reporters, you aren’t just gathering and issuing reports.. You set the public agenda by what you publish, where you place the stories in your newspapers, and the frequency with which you put out stories of social importance.

World over, journalists have used their craft to call government and corporations to account for wrongdoing, secret practices, and even corruption, often leading to reform. Good journalism shapes public knowledge about key social issues. Doing this job effectively, in a fast-paced, technology-driven world requires cutting edge skills.

To this end, the U.S. Mission to Nigeria is proud to organize this workshop on “Investigative Journalism in the Digital Age.” We strongly believe that media freedom is vital to a thriving democracy.

For years the U.S. Mission has funded training programs for hundreds of Nigerian journalists on topics ranging from investigative reporting, election reporting, to media ethics. The U.S. government is committed to initiatives that build media capacity in Nigeria. Tthis workshop is the most recent example of our longstanding engagement with and support of Nigeria’s media. I understand that we will next host training for photo-journalists.

These workshops and U.S. based training opportunities such as the International Visitor Leadership Program and other programs demonstrate our commitment to the deep partnership that we have long enjoyed with Nigeria.

We hope this workshop will help strengthen journalists’ capabilities. These journalists in turn will, provide more accurate information to Nigerians who will benefit from improved reporting on governance, human rights, health, and other crucial issues.

In closing, I want to leave you with this quote from American investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett, who once said: “The smarter the journalists are, the better off society is.”

With those words in mind, I wish you an informative and productive workshop and look forward to reading and watching your implementation of the lessons you learn here.

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Godwin Okafor is a financial journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and the Founder Naija247news Media Ltd He has over 16 experiences in journalism, which cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career in Business Day, Where he was a senior editorial graphic artist, before he left to start Naija247news, An Online Financial Newspaper in 2010. He has won series of awards and he is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.com and also sits on the board of Students In Business Awards, (SIBA).

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