The past few months of my administration as the Chief of Indy Press Editorial Board feels every bit like a race; a marathon or a cross country if you would have it. Every inch of the journey has been breathtaking, exhilarating, fun and sometimes energy-consuming. When I assumed office in October 2021, I knew what it was like to collect and hold the baton; what I didn’t know was how to run with it.
The last Editorial Board led by Theophilus Femi Alawonde created an antecedent; the Editor’s messages and actions suggested that they were passing the baton to people who will run faster and better. How well has this our administration –the 37th administration – done in this regard? How better has the organization fared? The following paragraphs are a journey through the highs and the lows, the ups and the downs, the thicks and the thins of the experience in the last few months.
Aside from being a recap and an expose, this is a call to remembrance of the duty, the challenges, and the demands of Journalism. It may also come across as a lesson plan on vision and execution to journalists and student leaders on Campus. Who knows, someone may find this story didactic and path-defining as they continue on their own race in the University community.
Above and Beyond: Our Big Wins in the Past Few Months
This particular race didn’t start on soft puddles; we ran on bare feet and our legs ached with hopes to get running shoes along the way. To start with, the Indy Pressboard has been in use for a long time and has taken quite a lot of damage. Considering the size and its relevance as a primary means of reaching our audience, it was imperative to repair the board. Fortunately for us, and with the support of our Alumni body, we were able to renovate the board for full use in the future, after a few months of our inauguration as the editorial board.
In the same vein, we thought it wise to ease story editing and publication for the organization. Although it has been relatively easy to publish for our audience, it takes a significant amount of money from the organization’s purse and the time of the principal offices. Some months after the renovation of the pressboard, we were able to acquire a commercial printer, to help ease the process of publication. With the Printer, we could print articles faster and with considerably lower financial implications. Ultimately, the printer would help us practice better journalism and render a better service to the student body.
Also, despite having churned out the best people, and stories, over the years, our secretariat – the press room – didn’t portray the greatness that we represent. The pressroom is what we consider our haven; a place where we meet weekly, for hours, to deliberate pertinent issues within the University community. To create an ambiance that befits our status, we felt it was important to renovate our pressroom. Also and quite fortunately, we were able to do it in the first week of March 2023.
At this point, It’s important to recognize the support of our indefatigable Alumni Network, without which most of these capital projects won’t be possible. The individuals that make up this network are the giants, on whose shoulders we proudly stand on. They’ve been there too – through financial and advisory support – to maintain the structures that are the Indy Press Organization. We want to believe it will only get better from here.
If anything, Indy Press has always been an embodiment of excellence and this has been reflected in various personal wins for our members this session. For instance, John Eriomala, a sophomore medical student, won the award for the UCJ-UI best inductee of the year. A big win; but nonetheless, not new to the house; Indy Press members have had the tradition of winning the award, and we have done that consistently for the past four years. Similarly, the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the organization, Timileyn Precious Akinmoyeje, emerged as the winner of the fifth edition of the Fisayo Soyombo Interversity Essay Competition in the footsteps of Kanyinsola Olorunnisola, an alumni member of the organization. This goes to show the quality of talents and individuals we build within the organization. Indy Press is not just a Journalistic outfit but an embodiment of greatness and excellence.
Ripples and Waves: What are the Positive Impacts of our Journalism in the Last Few Months?
Under this Editorial Board, the organization has become a force to be reckoned with. Through our solution-driven and impact-based journalism stories, Indy Press has held student officer-holders accountable and influenced the decisions of the University’s Management. Our News Reportage and Features Stories have undergone a transformative shift, one that is inclusive and accommodating of the voices of various stakeholders within the University community.
For instance, the focus of our stories has expanded beyond students to include individuals such as taxi drivers, religious organizations, cafeteria owners, cleaners, traders, and others. This shift has provided a platform for these often overlooked individuals – even students – to be seen, heard, and acknowledged as integral members of the community. As a result, they are now able to fully embrace their sense of belonging and identify with the University’s core values.
For instance, in his stories about Power Outage in UI, and the effects of the Naira Policy, Ajadi Sodiq, one of our correspondents, featured Traders, Small and Medium Enterprises, and Cab drivers in the University. Habeeb Abdul, the Indy Press features editor, has also authored exclusives that featured and spotlighted Tech Talents, Artisans and student Artisans in the University Community. To cap it all, Lord Whistleown , in another story about Speed breakers outside school, even featured the voices of Micra Drivers on the part of their work that intertwined with the Student Community. These are just a few instances out of the plethora of inclusive and impact based stories we have been able to identify, develop and execute.
In the same vein, our focus on accountability has also led us to investigate and expose malpractices by political student leaders through feature stories, investigative stories, special reports, and news articles. The scope of these stories extend beyond Indy Hall to the Student union executives and the Student Representative Council. For instance, our catalog boasts of the OMA Investigative piece and also has stories like the Indy Hall accountability series by Lord Whistledown, the evaluation of the Sports Secretary’s, the General Secretary, and the Vice President’s offices, just to mention a few.
The Price We had to Pay
These accomplishments haven’t come without a price. More often than not, good journalism costs money and time; member journalists have had to work on stories at the expense of leisure, classes and even feeding. On many occasions, member journalists have had to use their personal monetary resources to get to the bottom of important stories in the University community. Considering the burden of studentship, and the absence of established personal rewards, these are heavy prices to pay for the sake of social good.
On the more intense side, the organization and member journalists have had experiences of cyberbullying; the victimization of some of our press members, and autocratic attempts to guard the freedom of the press. Regardless of these experiences, we are not swayed. Our contributions as journalists are the basis of sustained democracy; it is the force that drives progressive changes. And in the words of Henry Grunwald, an Austrian-born American journalist, “Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph, and the signs of horror are still in the air.” This is why we can’t be silent; this is why we do what we do and remain who we are.
For every race, there’s always an end, and for every end, there’s always a beginning. We have learned lessons in this race: to challenge ourselves, to push ourselves beyond our limits, and to find what we are made of. Now, it’s time to pass the baton to ignited feet and invigorated minds. It is, Indeed, the finish line. I’ll conclude this with the words of N.R. Narayana Murthy, “When you run a part of the relay and pass on the baton, there is no sense of unfinished business in your mind. There is just the sense of having done your part to the best of your ability. That is it. The hope is to pass on the baton to someone who will run faster and run a better marathon.’’