A consultant (Nigeria) for AdamStart Global, Matthew Ibiyemi, has said journalism is key to making a difference and enhancing social change.
“When change is in the air, journalists can help push things along. Journalism is only one part of a bigger picture but when the circumstances are right, journalism does make a difference,” he said.
Ibiyemi, who is also the Corporate Communications Manager/Head of Infotech Desk, Nigerian NewsDirect, urged reporters to double their efforts towards effective change.
“Dear colleagues in the media industry, particularly reporters, I commend your tenacity and doggedness but let’s intensify our efforts. We have an effective tool in our hands to cause a paradigm shift,” he said.
Ibiyemi, who began writing at age nine, is a change maker with passion to utilise media as a tool for societal growth and development.
On the importance of media to bringing about change, he said: “Throughout history, we have seen how journalists/members of the press have been able to stoke global outrage and implement a change even though sometimes the campaigns succeeded, sometimes they failed.
“I stumbled on E. D. Morel’s article that stirred up public outrage against King Leopold’s horrific rule in the Congo while taking an online course last month and I discovered how the article by E. D. Morel impelled the British government to investigate the situation although King Leopold fought back with a public relations campaign of his own.
“Leopold didn’t cede control of the Congo until 1908, and even then it was only for financial reasons. All those years of bad press and public anger were not enough to make him stop what he was doing. In the end, it came down to money.
“During the Bengal Famine of 1943, the photos and editorials printed by the Statesman newspaper in Calcutta shamed the government into sending food aid and allowing other journalists to report on the situation.
“The coverage saved lives, but it came too late for the millions who died. Late is better than never, of course.
“In the Soviet Union, an estimated six million people died of starvation in the early-1930s under Stalin. The outside world had no idea because reporters weren’t allowed to write about it.
“The same happened in China. An estimated 30 million people perished during a famine in the late-1950s/early-60s. But again, no one outside the country knew because China banned news coverage.”
On his inspiration, Ibiyemi said God and his father, Dr. Samuel Ibiyemi. “I used to follow my dad everywhere as a kid to learn from him. I followed him to events, meetings, conferences as long as it was possible.”
As part of his efforts towards advocacy, he hopes to help kickstart a medical intervention/outreach this year for Sickle Cell carriers to educate the masses on how to manage and care for them.
Ibiyemi has received many awards, including Most recognised Brand on Campus (Male category: NewsDirect); 25 under 25 awards nominee for Media & Communications category; and AVA Editor of the Year.