Mediapreneur Hub is a synergistic media hub that teaches mobile journalism (MoJo) skills and fosters cooperation and support for young journalists exuding passion and innovation for media with a conviction to address community challenges by using solutions journalism and data journalism to tell impactful stories. Their aim is to improve journalism through advocating for use of emerging sophisticated digital media tools and mobile journalism skills to create more powerful stories that accelerate self-sufficiency for communities.

We spoke to founder and CEO, Patrick Seremba about how they are leveraging digital transformation to train mobile journalism skills to youth in communities in order to empower them to tell/share solutions-based and data-driven stories within their localities to the rest of the world.

How does Mediapreneur Hub leverage mobile journalism skills to nurture solutions and data journalists in communities?

Mediapreneur Hub is a synergistic maker space that trains young journalists in mobile journalism with a conviction to use media to address community challenges. Our desire to respond to Sustainable Development Goals motivates us to skill youth journalists in solutions journalism and data journalism to tell impactful stories. Through this approach, we have empowered young female journalists to affordably and safely tell stories from their communities with little constraint since all the production goes down on their smartphones. We are using our Media Megastars event, a MoJo competition for media students from different universities to give mobile journalism mileage. Students are encouraged to tell solutions and data stories within their communities where winners get better phones and cash prizes to motivate more youth to join the solutions and data journalism movement.

Are there specific skills that one needs in order to be a mobile journalist? 

From our experience, any familiar smartphone user can change from a phone user to a mobile journalist when trained to acquire a few skills to become mobile proficient. One needs some specific skills to be a flawless mobile journalist; to start with is a unique art of storytelling where they can identify and tell stories with a clear and intriguing sense. A level of digital literacy and the ability for one to do mobile production with some technical knowledge of mobile tools/apps used to cover, edit and publish their work with ease.

How can one tell a compelling story using a mobile phone?

In this era, one can certainly tell a mobile journalism story that can blow everyone away. All you need is to be intentional with the story you intend to cover and give it your everything. Mobile journalists need not forget the basics of journalism but rather complement them. Research is paramount; mobile journalists need to investigate several things before they deem a story worthy of reporting. Selection of the right and unique story angle is prime in captivating viewers’ attention and using the suitable MoJo kit accessories to have a crystal clear audio-visual quality consumable for digital platforms.

Since your company’s establishment, how has mobile journalism changed or evolved in Africa?

Africa is grappling with a lot of perennial societal challenges. Mobile journalism has enhanced responsible reporting creating a viable opportunity to debunk disinformation, tell first-hand stories, promote more voices, encourage transparency and seek accountability on the continent. Since our formation, we’ve empowered more youth mobile journalists to become more forward-leaning by leveraging the MoJo skills to tell solutions and data stories about challenges in their community. They’ve been able to tell untold stories, provide relevant data, investigate shortcomings, and uncover alternative solutions for policy formulation and decision-making on significant African critical issues. With enough resources and training, mobile journalists can move the continent.

There is a lack of access to smartphones and a high cost of data on the continent. How does your organisation address these challenges? 

Overall, a mindset change is still the biggest challenge. However, those two issues have made the cost of practicing mobile journalism ridiculously costly, thus limiting meaningful participation, information exchange, etc. These obstacles heavily hamper our dreams, as a media hub, we are working closely with the private sector and civil society organisations that advocate for digital inclusion by providing data and proposals that influence policy formulation and frameworks, tax subsidies on digital products. Together with our partners, we’ve acquired a few in-house smartphones and data provided to our MoJo trainees to enable them to experience hands-on learning.

Do you think more needs to be done to push or encourage more journalists to be mobile journalists in Africa? If so, how can this be achieved?

Absolutely yes, Africa needs more mobile journalists than just journalists. However, this is still a far-fetched dream that requires an urgent mindset shift through deliberate training of journalists in media institutions and making spaces to embrace and upskill their mobile storytelling and production. Since mobile journalism is an inclusive and constructive out-of-the-box approach to journalism, there’s a need to streamline collective systems for MoJo content creation, distribution, and consumption thus creating more jobs, diversity, and quality in service. Furthermore, the continent still has some fundamental infrastructural constraints like high cost of data, unaffordable smartphones and MoJo kits/accessories, that need to be addressed to motivate more journalists to be mobile journalists.

Is mobile journalism the future? 

Mobile journalism is the future! Not so long ago, Covid-19 gave us an exact scenario of how late we are towards its adaptation as the new normal for the changing face of journalism. With the pandemic disruption, MoJo became a reality with massive remote story production, citizen reporting, and mobile content consumption on social media and other platforms. MoJo provides a brighter future for the media business. Therefore, journalists and media outlets must harmonise it with the traditional practices and leverage its mobility, usability, affordability, validity, viability, scalability, and agility in the market.

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