Media convergence is all about bringing together different forms of media on one platform in such a way that would create the desired effect and make it more interesting to capture the attention of the audience. TOR VANDE-ACKA writes on the challenges of the new media
Taking into cognisance the importance of social media in a convergent world, Dangote group as well as Folio media and Creative Academy, a subsidiary of the Daily Times, recently, organised a 3-day critical media practice workshop on convergence journalism, for about sixty journalists in some North-Central region of Nigeria.
The journalists who were drawn from Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa, and Kwara converged at Dangote Academy, situated at the Dangote Cement plant, Obajana along Lokoja-Kabba Road in Kogi State for the training.
The workshop sought to, among other things expose media practitioners to convergence journalism, its importance; the power of convergence of media, as well as challenges faced in the convergence era. The training further sought to upgrade journalists with skills for convergent media, educate them on the system of convergence; multimedia skills for reporters in modern journalism.
Media convergence is the art of bringing together different forms of media on one platform in such a way that would create the desired effect and make it more interesting to capture the attention of the audience. In most cases, social media is used to create the effect that makes for print materials, visuals and sound to be converged on one platform, for greater effect.
In recent times, apart from the visuals, television networks, as well as print and radio, have launched themselves on social media, with the aim of reaching out to more audiences. They have used the convergent media to spread the tentacles of their reach to diverse groups, who access their product even on android and iPhones, without necessarily going through the rigours of subscription or leaving the comfort of their rooms.
Also, some print media have taken advantage of the convergence media to branch into the television industry; televisions on the other hand have engaged in convergence media by having online editions of their news and other products, including, but not restricted to advertising.
During the presentations, most of the resource persons believe that despite the increasing popularity of social media, the print would not give way to social media. They also argue that neither would social media disappear from the scene, in spite of the criticisms and recent attacks it has faced.
Also, journalists were introduced to the major sponsors, the Dangote brand, its corporate social responsibility (CSR) as well as its public-private partnership investment and economic development projects. Participants at the training gathered that the importance of convergence media cannot be overemphasised, hence, the media, be it the broadcast or print, have all adopted media convergence to increase their reach, as could be seen in the increase in online media content from the print and broadcast among others.
For instance, the print media, apart from churning out their news items in the hard copy, have also resorted to the online as a means of sending out their items.
Abdulkareem Baba Aminu, a former Editor with the Saturday edition of Daily Trust and a resource person at the workshop, advised the media to cash in on the power of convergence in order to sell their products. He explained that despite the much noise made about social media, it has come to stay and it was high time the media took advantage of the convergence media, which revolves around social media. Aminu further advised the media to re-assert itself in the rapidly changing environment, adding that in media response, the practitioners must consider what he termed the 4 ‘Cs’, which include Choice, Competition, Cooperation, and Collision.
According to him, in adopting this media response, the choice of media types available is key, adding that in an era of competition, it was pertinent for the media to continue upgrading skills for media convergence in order to meet up with the dynamics of the industry. Aminu, who has practiced for over two decades, also stressed the need to take into cognisance the issue of cooperation and collision with non-media fields, insisting that developing a cross-media mode of journalistic thinking would lead to result-oriented stories, that would create impact.
In one of the presentations at the training, the Plant Training Coordinator, Ayinde Olaide told media practitioners that the Obajana Cement plant controls about 16 percent of the cement market in Nigeria. He also pointed out that the plant produces about 16.32 metric tonnes of cement, which is one of the largest in Africa, even as Dangote operates in about 17 African countries.
While he stated that Dangote’s business revolves around food and shelter, he noted that the company has four basic entities, including, Dangote Cement, Dangote Agro Sacks, and Dangote Transports, which has over 6,000 trucks.
The Plant Training Coordinator further observed that Dangote Academy at Obajana, where the workshop took place was responsible for the training of incoming staff as well as the re-training of staff of the organisation, most of who are trained in cement and steel production among others.
Olaide, who introduced Dangote brands, the public-private partnership investment and economic development projects of the organisation as well as the corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities of Dangote, charged journalists on sustainability reporting. Subsequently, the participants were taken on a tour of the plant’s quarry, powerhouse as well as other vital components of the factory, where they were educated on the processes of cement production.
In a chat with our Correspondent, one of the resource persons, Dr. Mohammed Shaibu Onakpa of the Department of Mass Communications, Kogi State University, Anyigba noted that branding should be done in such a way that would command attention. He explained that the use of advertising in a convergent world “is more or less like moving from an analogue world into a digital one.
“Long before now, all of what we had always known and adapted ourselves to were basically analogue; the idea was that if you are on television, you are on television; if you are on the radio, you are on the radio; if you are in the print, you are into the print. But, thank God for the advances made in Information Communication and Technology (ICT). We have succeeded in witnessing the marriage of all on one platform, so things are easier; they are actually smoother now than ever.
“More or less, we have succeeded in displaying all of our talents on a single space; you find more of television going on, even in the elementary phones we handle and we can watch on the YouTube, any video at all, without necessarily going through DSTV in our homes. So, we move about with everything, we can video any occasion with what we carry; we use them for recording. I doubt if there is any journalist using the ‘midget’ as we used to know it; all of those things are in the past.
“So, really everything is at our fingertips, sort of; it gives us a wider avenue to practice our trade, in terms of advertising; in terms of news reporting, public relations, as the case may be. We have all the tools needed now in a platform. That’s life in the 21st century”, Onakaba observed.
Participants at the workshop, including, Babs Usigbe, Publisher of Pavilion newspaper in Makurdi, Benue State commended Dangote Cement for organising the training. Just as they described the training as very apt, they also agreed that the workshop had opened their eyes to some of the things that were before now hidden from them.
Usigbe said, “The training opened my eyes to the use of social media in the journalism practice. I discovered that we’ve not really exploited social media in the practice of journalism, as we ought to.
“I also discovered that there is a lot that we need to do in the practice of journalism to be able to reach the public in a manner that is more compelling. And, if you look at the resource materials that we got, it would further enhance my knowledge in the practice, using social media, and now I believe that I’m well equipped to be able to report very well, as far as social media is concerned, using the Facebook and other platforms.
“With this experience, I’m set to have more in-depth and apt reporting as far as I am concerned; focusing more on details and all, so as to capture the attention of readers”, he emphasised.
I also discovered that there is a lot that we need to do in the practice of journalism to be able to reach the public in a manner that is more compelling