TVC Communications’ Veronica Dan-Ikpoyi on workplace harassment, mental health stories and holding people to account

15 July 2022

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TVC Communications’ Veronica Dan-Ikpoyi on workplace harassment, mental health stories and holding people to account

“The most challenging part of my job is trying to hold people to account and with little access to information this makes it challenging,” says Veronica Dan-Ikpoyi, a Nigerian journalist and news anchor.

Veronica Dan-Ikpoyi is a seasoned journalist with TVC Communications who has over a decade of experience and is a highly passionate media professional. She is a media trainer, whose wealth of experience has impacted several journalists from various trainings she has been a part of.

She is passionate about telling stories and having conversations that help shape the Nigerian narrative. Dan-Ikpoyi was a finalist for the 2016 CNN Multichoice African Journalist of the Year and is currently the co-anchor on the Breakfast Show TVC Breakfast.

Q. What inspired you to become a journalist?

A. Initially, it was about admiration for people who read the news; how they pronounced words and all. However, when it was time to get into a higher institution, my grades were a perfect fit to study mass communication. I also realised that I was interested in telling stories and asking questions. Therefore, I went ahead to take professional training to hone my natural gifts.

Q. What has your experience been as a female broadcast journalist in Nigeria?

A. Being a woman journalist in Nigeria is not a walk in the park. You must get a dose of certain experiences that either strengthens or weakens you. Gender inequality is pervasive in the media space where you expect a high level of enlightenment that should challenge these biases.

The fact that women are denied some roles and positions and are not allowed to take up certain assignments still beats my imagination. It goes to show how deep our cultural values run. Workplace harassment is another concern that a majority of female journalists go through especially if you are a reporter or anchor. I had my fair share of all these issues but in all, I have been able to circumnavigate through to where I am now.

Q. What is the one story that you worked on which had a lasting impact on you?

A. Well, it is difficult to make a choice right now because the stories I have done so far have affected me in diverse ways and on diverse levels. However, I would say the story I did on mental health, where people who had mental health issues were in chains – it was incredibly dehumanising.

Q. What issues do you still want to explore or investigate in Nigeria?

A. There are so many issues I would love to explore – social injustice, sexual and reproductive health, as well as cultural issues and how they impact women.

Q. How would you describe the media landscape in Nigeria?

A. The media landscape in this part of the world is evolving, certainly not at the pace we expect, especially when compared with the pace of developed countries. Except for a few, most privately owned media houses find it difficult to bear the financial burden – they crumble under the weight. This has had a huge impact on the media performing its role of holding power to account. Successive governments have for long struggled to maintain the right balance with the media. So for example, we went through long years of military rule marked largely by tyrannical intolerance for journalists. The media, especially private media, nearly petered out. Then came some glimmer of hope following the return to democracy with the media seemingly able to perform its roles in the new environment of freedom but even that seems to be in jeopardy already. Finally, politicians who own big media employ journalists who are supposed to be the watchdogs of society. This is a huge challenge in delivering a vibrant democracy because politicians are not critiqued or held responsible as the media houses are owned by them. As a result, a majority of Nigerians have resorted to using their social media platforms to air their grievances against the government and those in power but that resulted in the ban of social media platforms and the government introduced a law that monitors social media.

Q. What is the most challenging part of your job?

A. Trying to hold people to account but with little access to information, makes it challenging.

Q. What has been the most rewarding part of your job?

A. The job has been quite rewarding in many ways. Like having to meet different people who are willing to share their stories and views with you and seeing the impact that makes, first-hand. Being recognised by international and local bodies via award nominations or invites to be a part of workshops as well as having the opportunity to share knowledge with up-and-coming broadcast journalists when I serve as a resource person at trainings I am invited for.

Q. What are the biggest misconceptions about broadcast journalism?

A. One of the biggest misconceptions is that women who practice broadcast journalism are loose. That is an unfair statement on the women folk because there are many disciplined women who have been able to achieve work/life balance successfully. There is the misconception that once you work in the broadcast media, you are rich, but even that is not true either! Most broadcast journalists are not well paid. What people do not know is that a majority of journalists are driven by their passion for the job. There is this school of thought that it takes next to nothing to be a broadcast journalist, that all you need is a pretty face and the ability to speak well – we all know its way beyond that because you have to put in the hard work if you want to be recognised.

Q. How have you dealt with personal attacks, harassment and general distrust of your work?

A. I was quite young when I started out and I experienced harassment in the workplace – at first, I would cry. However, I have developed a tough skin and speak to people about it – compared to when I started there weren’t available channels to report harassment but over the years there have been options for women to share their grievances.

Q. Any advice for aspiring news anchors and is the industry doing enough to train and mentor up-and-coming anchors?

A. Personal development is key. They should invest in training themselves and not necessarily wait on the organisation they work with to do so. Read journals, books and everything that can improve your knowledge. Look for mentors – you can learn a lot from their wealth of knowledge. The industry is not doing enough with training and mentorship programmes. This is sad and it has affected the quality of delivery over the years. I hope we see a revival of this aspect soon.

Source: Interview from the ever-excellent Jamlab Newsletter: https://journalism.us14.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=559d2c371baafd0fbe4a2dbae&id=0b571dcd38

NEW 35 YEAR HISTORY OF MOBILE AND INTERNET IN AFRICA

My book Africa 2.0 – Inside a Continent’s Communications Revolution – is out now from Manchester University Press. It’s an ambitious 35 year history of the impact of mobile and internet on Sub-Saharan Africa written for the general reader. It’s an important read for those in the broadcast, media and creative industries because it describes why understanding the impact of digital has become so necessary for industry practitioners: To order a copy (print or e-version) click on the link below:

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In Brief

South Africa: The South African Competition Commission has proposed imposing radical changes on Google’s search results in the country. The Commission wants the search engine operator to disclose to South African users which search results are paid for and possibly end its status as the default search engine on smartphones sold in the country. Recently, the commission published the provisional findings of its “online platforms market inquiry”, some of which could significantly impact major players in South Africa’s online ecosystem. In a statement, the commission said, “The inquiry has found that Google Search plays a vital role in directing consumers to the different platforms, and in this way shapes platform competition.”

HBO Max and Cartoon Network have announced that they will be adding a series from the Dark Horse Comics catalogue to their upcoming lineup, Iyanu: Child of Wonder.

Tanzania: The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has ordered DarMpya, an online news outlet, to suspend publication immediately. This follows TCRA’s June 28 inspection of the outlet’s office, where authorities found that the outlet’s license had expired in 2021 and was operating in breach of the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations. According to BMA, DarMpya had applied for its license renewal shortly before the suspension. The Tanzanian Information Minister, Nape Nnauye, stated that DarMpya had been under scrutiny for allegedly publishing unbalanced content but emphasised that the outlet’s suspension had nothing to do with its journalism and was solely due to its failure to comply with licensing requirements. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Tanzanian authorities should allow DarMpya to resume operations without further interference and reform the country’s online content regulations to muzzle the press. “The authorities are using a repressive set of regulations to control who may and may not express themselves online. The suspension of the news outlet reveals how such regulations can become tools of censorship,” stated Muthoki Mumo, CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative.

Nigeria: In Nigeria, the House of Representatives committee of Information recently held a one-day public hearing on a bill to provide for the regulation and conduct on the practice of broadcasting in Nigeria. The purpose of the hearing was to seek broadcasters’ and media practician’s input to give legal backing to the Society of Nigerian Broadcasters, which was incorporated in 2020. Participants at the hearing mainly supported the bill, describing it as complementary to the National Broadcasting Act in line with current realities. However, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) saw the bill as irrelevant and conflicting with the Embassy Act of 1992. According to the Director-General of NBC, Balarabe Ilelah, there cannot be two regulatory bodies governing one profession. “The job of controlling the industry is only given to the NBC. It is solely the job of the NBC to define who a broadcaster should be and not any other body. The Commission is already empowered by the NBC Act to establish a broadcast institute. Therefore, we submittee this for your consideration and further action. The Commission is committed to its already assigned responsibility of sanitising the industry by making it more professional,” the DG said.

Kenya: Showmax is set to debut a Kenyan original comedy show, ‘Roast House’. Roast House is a stand-up comedy show that seeks to celebrate different public figures in Kenya through jokes performed by a group of comedians from Standup Collective. Set to premiere in July, the show comprises ten episodes of 24 minutes each, where comedians dish out good-natured jokes on different topics, themes and situations at the expense of the public figure or celebrity in the hot seat. The show features activist Boniface Mwangi, singer-actress Sainapei Tande, politicians, media personality and comedian Jalang’o, Soul Generation artists Nviiri the Storyteller and Bensoul, including rapper Prezzo and hip hop group P-Unit. The show is co-produced by Eugene Mbugua’s D&R Studios and Stand-Up Collective’s team of comedians.

Namibia: MultiChoice Namibia and the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) have joined forces to create a wealth of homegrown stories for the African continent. At the launch event in Windhoek, the media companies announced their selection of 13 films that will be produced around the country in 2022. According to the companies, the successful film concepts were chosen from more than 200 submissions, after a call for experienced filmmakers and producers to submit film proposals showcasing authentic Namibian stories. The films and their producers include ‘Home is Where the Money Is’ by Michael Pulse, ‘Tuli & Jessica’ by Obed Emvula, ‘Okalila’ by Knowledge Ipinge, ‘Bokwagter’ by Dantagos Jimmy-Melanie, ‘The Funeral’ by Marinda Stein, ‘Kauna’s Way/ ER’ by Vickson Hangula and Frieda Karipi, ‘Blackened’ by Erica Gebhardt, ‘Instalove’ by Riejhaat Wolhuter, ‘Sacky’s Dilemma’ by Kgosi Makaza, ‘Set in Stone’ by David Benade, ‘The Goal’ by Mpingana Dax, ‘Wish for Death’ by Errol Geingob and ‘Chef’s Kiss’ by Guy Knockles.

Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) Acting Managing Director Samuel Maina says the national broadcaster is keen on adjusting to the emerging digital trends in order to reach a wider audience. Speaking on Wednesday during the unveiling of KBC sporting events, Maina said the Station is determined to reclaim its position as the number one broadcaster with key a focus on improving infrastructure and staff wellness. “We are focused on turning KBC into a super broadcasting house that meets the needs of the people of Kenya. I do believe, together we can make a greater impact with the resources and opportunities availed to us as we work towards achieving our shared goals and aspirations,” he stated The acting MD, however, noted that the changes can only be realized through sufficient budgetary allocation to the national broadcaster. “We request our Government to increase our budgetary allocation to enable us to continue transforming our National Broadcaster in line with the modern trends for improved service delivery,” he appealed He expressed optimism that despite the various hurdles that face the national broadcaster from time to time, the station has seen an increase in viewership over the last year after its relaunch.