A three-man panel of judges unanimously adjudged a former Editor-in-Chief of The Academia Campus Journalists, University of Ibadan (FCE Abeokuta affiliated campus), Olamide Abe, as the “Campus Journalist of the Year” during the 2021 edition of the Ogun State Campus Journalism Summit organised by the Press Club MAPOLY. In this interview with I-79 Media Consults, Abe speaks about his academics and his professional and personal life. Excerpts;
You just emerged the winner of the “Campus Journalist of the Year” award. How were you able to balance your academic pursuit with your passion for journalism?
I don’t see myself as the best because I’m not in competition with anyone. I received the award as a compliment of my good work in the year under review not because I am the best in the state, I am not better than the next man.
To be very honest, my passion for journalism supersedes my academic pursuit, it was never balanced. While on campus, I focused more on journalism than academics because I want to become a journalist in the future, not an educator so I had to prioritize journalism.
Tell us about your passion for journalism. What piqued your interest and at what point did you develop an interest in it?
Journalism is life to me, it means everything. I’ve always been an ardent storyteller with a variety of information on different topics since childhood. While growing up, I felt the need to make it a point of duty to disseminate the information and to shape the public perception of things.
When did you start writing? How did your formative years and parents influence your love for writing?
I started writing in 2012 on wapka.mobi when my friends pressured me to monetize my content and knowledge. I grew up doing what I want, my parents allowed me to be independent in making decisions.
What do you think is the future of campus journalism in Nigeria? Do you think a lot of students are tapping into the opportunities available through campus journalism?
I think it’s safe to say the future of campus journalism in Nigeria is bright because of the consistent efforts of mainstream media organisations and practitioners in ensuring that the profession is being practised ethically on campus with their various catch-them-young programmes.
What are your long-term goals? Where do you see yourself in the next 5 to 10 years?
My long term goal and where I’m planning to be in the next decade is very straight: To become a pan-African journalist with the biggest network of insiders that’ll provide solutions to sports underdevelopment in the continent through journalism.
What kind of books do you read and what inspires or pushes you to write?
I am bibliophilic and seldomly read non-academic books but ‘Sports Journalism’ by Kathryn Stofer, ‘Losers’ by Mary Pilon and ‘Road Before The Fourth Estate’ by Kunle Adebajo shaped my journalism career.
Who are those you look up to in the field of journalism, like mentors? How has your relationship with your mentors shaped your passion for writing?
I am looking up to a lot of people as mentors but Adrian Wojnarowski tops the unending list. His approach of being the epicentre in his beat is a major thing that fuels my passion.
What are the challenges you have encountered as a campus journalist? And how did you overcome them?
There were so many challenges but the biggest was the threat from the school management and lack of adequate support. There were two attempts by the management to suspend me but I survived both as a result of loopholes in the justice system. The first was November 2019, the second time was August 2020.
How do you think campus journalism can be improved?
A lot has been done over the years but we should not relent, there is a need for educating campus journalists on the relevance of press and contemporary press development, monitoring of activities and investigating complaints against campus journalists by relevant bodies to help press freedom and advancement of democratic practices.
What advice would you give upcoming campus journalists?
There is no general rule or template for success so they should do what’s best for them. Albeit, they need to control the controllable through consistency and educate themselves through rigorous learning on the job. I can say that because it has worked for me.