Chief Executive Office of Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, Mrs. Motunrayo Alaka has given practical suggestions on how journalists can attain excellence in their practice.
She gave the hints at the International Press Centre in Lagos during the fellowship of journalists for Christ on Saturday, January 23. She spoke on the theme, “the pursuit of excellence.”
Also at the forum was Dr. Peter Ogudoro an education researcher and career development expert.
Alaka said one of the ways to attain excellence is to first have a mind of excellence and do every assignment with a great deal of commitment.
Whatever your hands find to do
Referring to Ecclesiastics 9v10 she said, “As Christians, our first responsibility is to God. Whatever we do, we should do it well. That is my definition of success. It does not matter if we are paid for it or not. What should be our guiding principle is that we are working for God. He is the one who pays us ultimately not our employers”
She noted that the Christian does not live a segmented life but “just one life that is governed by God. When Christians say, my Christian life, I wonder what they mean because your daily life, life at work, home and anywhere should be the same life. That life should glorify God.”
Alaka said when she got into journalism, she discovered that many journalists were confused and did not represent the profession well.
“That shocked me. I saw journalists that were not well dressed and who did not know the worth of their profession. That was what spurred me to go into development journalism. My passion is to make journalists see how important their work is and to make them comfortable.”
Christianity and journalism
She said being a Christian and journalist is a plus because the Christian is meant to be the light of the world. “We are the light of the world. But the challenge is that we like to be light inside light. Jesus described Christians as the light and salt of the world. We must understand that salt and light are interrupters. We are supposed to make a difference everywhere we find ourselves”
Alaka had worked assiduously to build the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism from scratch to where it is today. She said she had always had the mind to excel in her work since she got born again after leaving secondary school
“I serve a God that is excellent. So I made up my mind that I will excel in all I do. I can’t be a church girl and be failing in what I do. As Christians, we have the mind of Christ. It is the mind of excellence. I can’t misrepresent my God. Whatever work you do, must be done with the mind of excellence.”
She noted that in journalism, journalists are mandated to put their names on their stories. “that to me says a lot. The implication is that you must strive to represent that name well. The reputation of the journalist matters. That is why our stories carry our names. So when you do a story, you must do it well because your integrity is at stake.”
Money not the focus
While giving a trajectory of her work life, Alaka said, money should not be a motivating factor in service delivery.
“The Christian who is a professional must get to the point that money will not be the basis of service. Our motivation should be the desire to impact our society because it is only God who can pay us. It is about understanding that it is God who takes care of us. I show up to serve. And that has helped me over the years. Your organisation can owe you but God will never owe you.”
She said further, “since it is God who pays us, we must constantly take instructions from him. There is a pattern God wants you to follow. Once you align your relationship with God all other things fall in place. The holy spirit directs what you do. It is here on earth that we are expected to shine the light of God not when we get to heaven.”
Attain excellence comes with sacrifice
Alaka spoke for about 45 minutes at the fellowship. She noted however that attaining excellence comes with a lot of sacrifices.
“The first thing to bear in mind is that journalism is not witch-hunting. It is about putting out the facts. There is a price to pay for excellence in that regard. It is not cheap. Pray the word of God.
Always plan and prepare. God is committed to blessing the work of your hand. If you do nothing, there will be nothing for him to bless.”
“Expect challenges. You’re going to face fire. But pray about the challenges. Be sure that your work will always speak for you.”
Move only when the cloud moves
During the questions and answers session, she reiterated the need for believers to always allow God to take the lead in their decision-making.
“Every situation will present its own challenges. When God is in the picture, you can be sure that it will end well. In the old testament, the children of Israel had to follow the cloud in their journey to the promised land. When the cloud was lifted from above the tent they moved. Wherever and wherever that is where they camp. The Christian has to always follow God’s leading. it will determine when to quit a job and when to take a job.”
Responding to the message, Dr. Ogudoro expressed great satisfaction. He said Alaka’s ministration has confirmed many of the things he had cause to share with some of his proteges.
President of JFC, Mr. Lekan Otufodunrin thanked Mrs. Alaka for sparing the time to speak at the fellowship. He urged journalists to take advantage of JFC meetings “because it a place where we bring in experts, brainstorm and guide ourselves. It is a fellowship where we can network. Journalists need to come out of their cocoons and interact with people. It is not just about reporting. We need also to develop ourselves. One of the fora to do that is the JFC monthly meeting.”