Peace Oladipo is a Nigerian investigative journalist whose work has been featured in publications such as Premium Times, International Policy Digest and the Inter Press Service. She spoke to Jamlab about her journey in the industry, the media landscape in her country and her passion for reporting on the environment and documenting the stories of women in Nigeria.

1. What inspired you to become a journalist?

As a student of mass communication, I wanted to put into practice the knowledge imparted by my lecturers, this desire led me to join the union of campus journalists and other media bodies at my university. However, my inspiration has evolved over the years, and I have two reasons now. Firstly, I am driven by the need to tell untold stories. Living in a small town, I’ve noticed a lack of coverage for local events that affect us directly. Therefore, I am deeply inspired to share the narratives of grassroots communities or people who are not considered newsmakers in the nation.

Secondly, I have a deep love for my country, Nigeria, and I believe that my contribution to making the nation better lies in journalism. According to history, journalism brought Nigeria independence. If it had the power to effect such significant change then I believe that it still holds the potential to positively impact our nation today. I am proud to be one of the soldiers fighting for the betterment of my people through journalism.

I mean, imagine Nigeria without the media.

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

It has been bittersweet. The space is dominated by males, which has contributed to my multifaceted experience. I have experienced discrimination, but I cannot overlook the valuable contributions of older female journalists. I see women in the media fighting for younger journalists like myself to thrive. Of course, I still have to work harder, but the limitations and challenges would be much worse if certain individuals had not advocated for the inclusion of women in these spaces.

There is a sweet side to being a female journalist too. My gender has provided me with unique perspectives and opportunities. I find it so easy to connect with people living in marginalised communities, in ways that my male counterparts may not achieve. People readily trust and share information with me. I see locals in the communities I visit going the extra mile to help me get things done.

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

That would be one of my first investigative stories, “Poverty and ignorance driving deforestation, illegal logging in Ekiti communities” was my first story where I went undercover. I joined a group of wood loggers disguised as a student researching trees. I got so close to them that we ventured into deep forests together and worked side by side. After the investigation was published in a national newspaper, the story caused problems for me due to its impact on the loggers. I nearly dropped out of school because the loggers were searching for me.

This experience made me realise that undercover work may not always be the best option and that there are other strategies to adopt when seeking information. It had a profound impact on me, leading to months of depression and anxiety. At one point, I even considered leaving journalism altogether. However, I found comfort and support from friends like Abdulrasheed Hammad and my mentor, Ifedayo Ogunyemi. I guess I learned the hard way there. I still feel bad whenever I remember that story.

4. What issues do you still want to explore or investigate?

I am passionate about the environment and climate change. This subject encompasses several subsets that touch every aspect of human life, which intrigues me a lot. Additionally, I am drawn to investigative government fiscal matters. I firmly believe that Nigeria, my country, has the potential to thrive when developmental projects are well executed and functioning, and when political officeholders prioritise equality and fairness rather than personal gain.

Lastly, as a woman, I am passionate about telling my story and documenting the experiences of women in Nigeria. Women in our country face numerous challenges, and I want to highlight their successes, failures, health issues, and their ongoing fight against being treated as second-class citizens in their nation.

5. How would you describe the media landscape in your country?

Our media landscape is a great work in progress. We have seen several innovations across media platforms in the country, and these innovations are facilitating more inclusion and engagement from both the government and the people. However, journalism and media jobs are quite exhausting in Nigeria. Recently, in my state, two journalists were arrested for releasing a report calling for more accountability from the leader of an institution. It’s disheartening that despite our hard work, we receive little financial rewards and are still threatened by individuals who can manipulate security officers.

Journalists in Nigeria are facing multiple challenges, yet they continue to persevere like missionaries. The media remains the last hope of the common man in Nigeria.

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

It’s a challenge to get people to talk about issues. Both the oppressors and the oppressed often avoid discussing the oppression. Journalism primarily relies on what is said rather than one’s observations or thoughts. In my country, obtaining information from political leaders, even with legal processes like the Freedom of Information Act, is difficult.

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

Holding those in power accountable is crucial. Investigative journalism provides the opportunity to amplify the voices of the voiceless by asking the leadership the right questions. These stories often spark conversations that lead to solutions. The impact of these investigations helps in creating the society of our dreams, where the public good prevails over selfish interests.

Furthermore, I am dedicated to spotlighting the great work Nigerians and Africans are doing. We have several problems in Africa, which is why we are often projected as violent, poor, and barbaric. Africa is often portrayed negatively. However, through the lens of solutions journalism, I am proud to tell stories of how Africans are addressing the continent’s issues. I find hope in the stories I write.

8. You’re also a documentary photographer. How has that been and what were the most memorable moments that you captured?

I enjoy taking pictures. Hardly a day passes without me taking a picture and editing it, especially on my phone. I enjoy capturing pictures of places and the everyday life of my dear country. I have captured individuals in Southwestern Nigeria in their vulnerable state. I am going to expand on documentaries when I acquire more tools to explore. I love photography; it’s my way of being creative and even relaxing.

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

I try to avoid trouble as much as possible. There are places I know I shouldn’t go to. Of course, no story is worth risking my life for. However, I do go the extra mile when necessary. Additionally, I make every effort to represent evidence-based and balanced stories. Dealing with distrust is reduced when you include the voices of every actor in a story.

10. What advice would you give the younger generation of journalists coming up?

Start early. Get mentorship and learn about the ethical standards of journalism. Journalism is not blogging or content creation, get the required knowledge to run before you walk. The profession is dynamic, so every young journalist including myself should possess multiple skills to be significant.

Furthermore, be unique. Among the millions shouting, be a voice. Gone are the days when journalists simply broke news; now, we are left with telling stories about issues an average person cannot perceive. So, your unique ideas and storytelling are what will distinguish you.


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