“The first time I was offered a journalism job in Nigeria, the…

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“The first time I was offered a journalism job in Nigeria, the newspaper owner suggested that I supplement my income with bribes.  He told me: ‘I’m giving you a platform.  Use what you have to get what you need.’  I knew then that the rumors were true.  Journalism in this country was corrupted.  There was no idealism.  Reporters were writing stories for money.  And even more damaging, they were killing stories for money.  I didn’t want to participate.  I felt it would be more ethical to just find a corporate job.  But in 2008, I was given the opportunity to manage a new paper founded by Nigeria’s only Pulitzer Prize winner, Dele Olojede.  The paper was called Next.  And we tried to change things.  We hired young people who were untainted by the culture.  Half of them were women.  We paid them well and we trained them well.  Ethics came first.  Accepting gifts was absolutely forbidden.  Our paper survived for three years.  During that time, we broke major stories every single week.  We exposed all sorts of corruption.  But we were targeted for our success.  Our reporters were detained.  Our board members were threatened.  The government leaned on our advertisers, and they withdrew one by one.  Eventually we were forced to close.  But for three years we set the pace.  We created a mold.  And I believe we changed the media landscape.  Investigative journalism is stronger now.  Many of our journalists have gone on to start amazing publications of their own.  The paper may have been short lived, but I know it had an impact.  Revolution is too strong of a word, but we definitely shook the table.”
(Lagos, Nigeria)