Journalists in Lagos State pledge to amplify youth candidates running in the 2023 elections through quality reporting
As the 2023 elections draw nearer, journalists in Lagos State have made a commitment to improving their press coverage of young people running for office in a bid to project their capacity, competence, and character to brighten their chances of winning in the elections scheduled to hold in February and March next year. This was an outcome of a media roundtable meeting held by Yiaga Africa with journalists and editors, including the Lagos State Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) on Friday, October 14th.
“We are also invested in getting more young people to be elected into government, and we are going to ensure that young candidates get as much publicity as possible which will encourage people to vote for them,” said the NUJ Lagos State chairman, Adewale Ajayi.
The roundtable provided an opportunity for journalists in Lagos State to discuss publicity challenges faced by young candidates running in elections and to offer recommendations for improving reporting of youth candidates ahead of the 2023 general elections. This is timely on the heels of the recently released report by Yiaga Africa that showed a decline in youth candidacy from 34% in the 2019 elections to 28.6% in the 2023 elections. This means that there is a need for urgency to project young candidates to increase their electoral chances so that the proportion of young people elected into government does not fall further.
In his opening remarks, Yiaga Africa’s Programme Manager, Ibrahim Faruk highlighted the important role that the media can play in getting young people elected into government.
“There is a public perception of young people in govt as inexperienced & ill-prepared which is a partial narrative, & it affects the chances of young people in elections. The media has a crucial role in reshaping this perception,” said Faruk.
There were also vibrant conversations on how to improve storytelling in ways that will positively highlight the candidates and their campaigns, which was led by Idris Akinbajo, the Managing Editor of Premium Times.
"Journalists need to tell stories that focus on the people involved & who are impacted most by the stories. There is also a need for deliberateness in promoting youth candidacy through publicity," he said.
In their submissions, some of the journalists lamented the unavailability of candidates for media appearances and their lack of willingness to provide necessary cooperation to journalists.
“Candidates, especially youth candidates, need to see the media as their partners, and not as a cost centre. Media appearances need not cost them any money, but if they are not prepared, they cannot seize opportunities that will provide them with needed publicity,” said one of the participating journalists.
Some of the journalists also recommended that media houses should be intentional in dedicating pages and peak time to report young people running for office ahead of the 2023 general elections.
There was also an interactive session between the journalists and a young candidate running for the House of Representatives seat for Mushin II Federal Constituency in Lagos State on the platform of the Young Progressives' Party (YPP), Folarin Joseph Opeyemi. The interaction gave the journalists insights into his level of preparedness for the office he is running for as he shared his manifesto and the policy issues he intends to focus on as a lawmaker.
The roundtable on reporting youth candidates is part of an effort by Yiaga Africa through its TurnUpDemocracy project supported by the United Kingdom Aid for International Development (UKAID) to support young candidates ahead of the 2023 general elections.