Between the writing and the classroom

There can be no greater honor than to have your highly regarded former bosses, supported by your esteemed colleagues, inviting you to share an experience. It sounds like a request for a newsletter, after being released a long time ago, and, at the same time, a review meeting before other possibilities. While you were delighted with the invitation, you must also be concerned with the daunting task of figuring out what else to add to the creative layouts of a group of brilliant and successful ex-professionals based in The Guardian Abuja.
I mean a group including names like Babatunde Ogala (SAN), Senators Ayogu Eze, Babafemi Ojudu, Kingsley Osadolor, Olusegun Adeniyi, Fred Ohwahwa, Okey Ikechukwu, Dapo Olorunyomi, Laolu Akande, Paul Nwabuikwu, Ohkus Aweani, Camlegillus Aweani, Eboh, Jide Olatuyi, Raheemat Momodu, Prisca Egede, Etim Etim, Prof. Godwin Sogolo, Abdul Oroh, Bankole Ebesemiju, Dan Akpovwa, Sony Aragba-Akpore, Alex Okoh, Timeyin Uwejamomere, Dulue Mbachu, Madu Onuen Kariveem, Tajudeen Kar Denedo, Osaretin Imahiyereobo and a host of other important people.

Either way, the newsroom-to-classroom conversion that my bosses envisioned wasn’t as deliberate as the invitation to talk about it. This transition was a coincidence, or a construction of providence, aided by a desire to bow down. I am going to explain. You were reporting an ongoing political process, through the prism of the Senate, after covering a lengthy and convoluted transition or democratization process. You enjoyed the thrills and the frills and thought you would make one last attempt at the much sought after UK Chevening Exchange after two attempts.

And then you succeeded. You only had to spend one year in England, for a Masters, and return to your job, backed by the strict return policy of the sending institution. But who can tell? With the first semester completed, British University announced partial funding opportunities for international doctoral students. You must, however, have on hand an admission to the doctorate, which would be based in part on your performance in an ongoing Masters program. You have applied. You were admitted but did not get the scholarship.

It doesn’t matter. You applied for another opportunity and got it right, just like that, and close thoughts of your immediate return to Nigeria, after a year. At least three years awaited you. You are done after three and a half years of near misses, almost there and not there, of having to write and rewrite a sentence countless times, engage a thousand and one books, and more; and enjoy the perception of home that it is nice to be in the West.

“Go home, don’t go home”. Back-and-forth predominated, leading to a feat at the Oxford Internet Institute, until an exchange with Olusegun Adeniyi, then presidential spokesman, by email. “Brains like yours have to be at home. You should come back, ”he said, followed by a call for tenders for a World Bank contract at the Public Procurement Bureau (BPP). His recommendation was strong. His influence was great. His selflessness was palpable. The rest is history.

Contract terminated. After that ? The university came to call, part-time or full-time. One of the biggest challenges of transitioning to academia is the gap between journalistic communication and academic communication. The journalist’s license is unlimited. He could juggle with words, even dance with them, pushing here, there and there, especially in analysis. It can be flowery, prosaic, descriptive and at times opinionated.

Restless, the reporter can be messianic, acting as a missionary, an agent of change, and needs you to appreciate all of this in their writing: often rushed, spontaneous and continuous. He is free, empowered and confident. You are wrong if you bring that confidence to the classroom. Academic writing is miles apart. It’s more direct, dense, less opinionated, and should be based on down-to-the-second evidence. Your opinions may come in (perhaps as a hypothesis), but should be in the wake of empiricism, some research, supported by verifiable references.

Sometimes uninteresting, sometimes turgid, even boring, they lead to an arithmetic reality, to an unfailing submission on an aspect of life, or to a common thread. Unlike the journalist who might be published with one or two well-known editors revising his copy, they would publish the academic after a much larger number of editors, whom he did not know, in what is considered a review. blinded. Unlike the journalist, too, the academic may have to write a sentence or a paragraph, over and over again; and even still, until the hour of the end (symbolically), against a deadline.

Their audiences also differentiate their writings. While many read the press, fewer audiences read the academic writer most of the time. The academic reading audience is very limited, often more introverted, than the journalist as a whole. Academic could also be very tough and groundbreaking, while journalist could be less so, even though it offers a faster learning curve, faster news, and instant entertainment.

The point to stress though is that the shift from journalism to academic writing can be exasperating, despite the banality of the lettering. While the writer in the journalist is useful for starting an academic career, a greater degree of patience, tolerance, humility and endurance is required to cope with the increased level of effort, to harass your submissions, to be torn apart, to believe that the end is to produce a more diverse you.

Let us see again: the academic engages in continuous research, teaches, does community service, exercises administrative responsibilities, advice, etc., while the journalist reports, interprets and analyzes, and is involved in development activities, apart from the turmoil. Both hands are therefore full.

Which do I prefer? Can you find the answer in choosing between a shorter or longer walk to the market? While the long distance might allow you to exercise your body, towards physical health, the shorter is faster to reach your goal, and you can think about exercising later if you are mindful of your own. -to be. Both tracks are productive, but just the time and luck at hand. Check! It can therefore be argued that the two fields are cousins, not only in the need for writing as a tool, but in their earnings.

This is because both careers are unlikely routes to the millionaire club, although you might achieve marginal comfort if all went well. Both are based on inspirations, reflections and deep reflections, alongside a desire for understanding and knowledge. Curiosity, observation, investigation, questioning and the search for answers also unite them.

We do not like absolute reasoning, we prefer circumspection, research and filling in alleged gaps. The other can be presumptuous in analysis (sometimes salacious and sensational), but at the same time informative, educational and entertaining. One requires special, additional or even higher qualifications tailored to specializations, while the other can only be fought with obvious talent, flair and passion, which could also be refined by minimum or maximum qualifications. .

One can be heard, flamboyant, outgoing, connected, go-getter, efficient and influential, while the other might be more sober, conservative, more critical, contemplative, unknown, but also productive. But see this secret: one of them subtly views the other as shallow and somewhat fleeting, while another sees the other as rigid, time-wasting, and uninteresting. Which do you prefer? Your choice, but better to enjoy what you do and be the best you can be, anywhere, anytime. More than.

Text of the main presentation at the 3rd Alumni Meeting of The Guardian Newspapers, Abuja Chapter, June 5, 2021, at Lagos Bistro, Art Dec District, Abuja.


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Nell Love

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