Sunday, 31 August 2014

The SK Exclusive Part 2: Journalists of today practice indomie-noodle journalism---City People Publisher, Dr. Seye Kehinde + “How I turned down OBJ’s Ministerial appointment”

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Dr Seye Kehinde with Lagos State 1st lady, Dame Abimbola Fashola....let us do journalism with dignity
 Like we promised you couple of days ago, today we present to you the final edition of our interesting encounter with City People Magazine publisher, Dr Seye Kehinde who was recently honored with the traditional title of Aare Onigege-Ara of Iroko Ekiti by Oba Sunday Ekundayo, the Oluroye of Iroko Ekiti land in Ekiti state during the 10th years anniversary of the King.  Enjoy the excerpts only on your number 1 African Celebrity encounter blog asabeafrika.  Enjoy!  

How I turned OBJ, OGD’s offer
Years ago during the reign of former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo it was rumored that Dr. Seye Kehinde was offered a ministerial appointment only for the publisher to turn it down at the dying minute. Asabeafrika for the first time asked him to confirm the rumor and why he took such a daring gesture; here is his response “Yes, I guess it is because it is not part of my schedule. It is not part of the plans I have for my self. I have had offers apart from that even from the former Governor of Ogun state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, there were a lot of times he wanted me to come on board in Ogun state. Even Chief Bode George kept putting pressure on me that I should join politics, I should join politics but I am somebody who is not too cut out for such schedule. I think we all need to plan our life in such a way that you will work according to your instinct. It doesn’t feature in my plan to leave what I am doing to go and do something else. You know you have a business that you need to run; once you leave it, it suffers then you go into politics for maybe one or two year then you are back and you start picking back the pieces of your business that has suffered. 
Dr. Seye Kehinde with the GDA
“So for me if I meet them, it is not just for me to advise, I am going to beg them; if possible prostrate to them that what we all need to do is go back to the drawing board, go back to the basics. And in the age of the social media, the papers that will survive are papers that are doing rigorous journalism, rigorous journalism means breaking stories, doing research and all of that. Not those that are doing fleeting stories that will become irrelevant in few days. We need papers that will do stories that people will be asking for those editions even six months, seven months and one year after the publication”
For me, it didn’t add up. It just didn’t add up. So, when they asked me to submit my resume, I reluctantly submitted my CV. And because of the reluctance I showed a lot of them were surprised that ‘ah, ah?’ things that people jump at why is this guy not showing interest and I said ‘well, i don’t really want it, if you want to hear the truth, I don’t want to leave my job for government job and all that’ and they were really surprised. So, I have seen those who have offered me openings here and there, I have always told them, I would not be interested. I guess it also has to do with the passion. It primarily has to do with the covenant I had with God when I was starting City People that “God if you let this project succeed, I will put everything I have in it to the end of my life” and for me that is a serious covenant and to the extent that He (God) has kept His own part of the covenant by making the business successful I also need to keep my own part of it so that it doesn’t look as if ‘oh, he took it for granted and all that’. Politics for me has always been an option. I just believe that journalism itself is large enough; there are lots of other things that one can do that we have not even looked into at all. So, I am saying if I need to expand at all it has to be within the media space and not outside the media space to go and do something else. Haven said that, I can always support people who need my special advise or support from within my organization but not that I will leave to go and become a minister or commissioner somewhere. It is not attractive to me because I am very contented and I am very happy with what I am doing, it gives me a lot of joy and fulfillment and I don’t want to sacrifice that to go and sit down in a place where you are not really in control of what you are doing and somebody dictates to you”
Dr. Seye Kehinde.... I can interview a Seven Years old
Blogging is not journalism
We asked Dr. Seye Kehinde to tell us what will be his chief message to two thousand young journalists who want to be successful in the field if he is given a chance as a speaker in a ball room. Hear him “I will just tell them to go back to the basics. That is my favorite phrase, ‘let’s go back to the basics’. Journalism is journalism. Journalism is different from blogging; it is different from social media. Even up till now, the other day a friend of mine and I we sat around the Laptop and we googled on journalism courses abroad to know if the definition has changed and we still realized that journalism still remain the same abroad. There is a clear difference between journalism and blogging. But these days’ people just assume that ‘oh, blogging is it. That blogging equates journalism, no. if you want to do journalism, for me, the way I was brought up in it, it is very rigorous, it is very hard, it is very frustrating. I mean that is journalism but if people are trying to find what I will call “Short Cut Journalism” it cannot work. So, if I am addressing a lot of young people struggling to survive in this trade, I am going to tell them, not just advising them, I will be begging them that they should let us go back to the basics. The basic laid down rules for journalism.  And that there is no way that you can do journalism or achieve success in journalism if you do not come to terms with the reality that it is very rigorous and that you need a lot of  hard work and you  need a lot of perseverance to survive in the profession. I mean you (Gbenga Dan Asabe) are an example of it, you know how difficult it is to get a very good interview from anybody. It may take a whole year, it may take six months at times you go on trail of people. At times you are hoping to see them and they just say no. journalism is not the one that you go and sit in one room with your Laptop and just beginning to imagine things and you say you are blogging and all that; and I guess that has made a lot of young people go lazy. The other day, maybe three or four days ago, there was this news item on the mass failure in WAEC. That is what explains it, everybody has been hooked on social media and because of that no serious work is going on”.
Dr. Seye Kehinde.....The industry is full of Indomie-Noodle Journalists
Meet the indomie Journalists by Dr. Seye Kehinde
“Today’s journalists have become lazy because of the social media. You find out that what you see in paper A is what has been reproduced in paper B and the same thing applies to paper C. Journalists are no longer looking for breaking stories, they are no longer looking for stories that will be well researched, that will be painstaking and all that. People like the indomie-Noodles fast food kind of stories where they will just cut and paste. They just take it from one blog and slam it in the paper and that is a great achievement for the day. Even those who run columns do the same, you find out that the story you find in newspaper A will be in newspaper B, they are just re-circulating and re-producing the same thing. So for me if I meet them, it is not just for me to advise, I am going to beg them; if possible prostrate to them that what we all need to do is go back to the drawing board, go back to the basics. And in the age of the social media, the papers that will survive are papers that are doing rigorous journalism, rigorous journalism means breaking stories, doing research and all of that. Not those that are doing fleeting stories that will become irrelevant in few days. We need papers that will do stories that people will be asking for those editions even six months, seven months and one year after the publication. And it is easy to do, it is just that people no longer want to go through the entire hug and have the patience to go through what it takes to do such ground breaking stories”.
Dr. Seye Kehinde.....I am ready to porstrate for upcoming journalists to go back to basics
I can interview a 7 years old
This question would have drawn an irrational reaction if SK was another person but thank God, he is one very unassuming leader who is ready to correct any impression made about him no matter how insidious it looks. We asked him why he still finds time to go after people for interview even those below his standard despite his legion of reporters; his answer came gently and steadily “I do that because I learnt my own journalism from the masters. If a Mike Awoyinfa wants to leave his house in the morning and the first thing he thinks about is his tape recorder, why am I lagging behind? Mike Awoyinfa is above 60 and with long years and experience on the job and you will see him interview a young star like Tiwa Savage. That is how I grew; I have seen veterans of 60, 70 years who travel from the UK to Nigeria in pursuit of stories. You might think those stories are small but when they get hold of those stories it adds to their pedigree. And like I said to you initially, I have told myself that I am in this thing for real; I am not in it just for a few years.  So, why won’t I interview a seven years old kid? Why wont I interview anybody that worth it? I have seen people interview two years old, three years old and four years old. The lady who had the problem with her Pulitzer Prize that they cancelled went to do her interview with a very small child in a lonely region. It is not about your age or pedigree, no. no. no. that is not the beauty of journalism. The beauty of journalism is to go get the rarest of anything. I can interview a mad man on the bridge if there is a need to do so; there is no big deal to it. I have said it before that one of my plans which I think God has granted me the grace is that I want to continue to report. I want to continue to interview people till I die. There are people who do it abroad, so why is my own different? Why must it be because you have done a few years journalism and you become a big man? You can’t do interview again and all of that?”
Chief (Dr.) Seye Kehinde....the profession needs a total reform
I can interview a nursery school student….
“My last interview yesterday was conducted 2am (Showed us the tape). That is what I am transcribing before you came in; I had to drop my car and jumped into somebody’s car and we drove round Lagos to interview this personality. They took me back about 2:30am to pick my car where I packed it. For me, that is journalism and that is what I enjoy. It is only good journalism that will warrant you to be on third mainland bridge at 2am when all your peers are sleeping.  What I am doing here in the office is just the administrative aspect; for me what comes best is moving around and getting the interviews. That is the beauty of it but at the same time I am not stopping anybody from doing his or her own beat. I am just doing my own bit, if I have any busy appointment and I feel someone else can go and do the interview, oh, it is all well and good. But if I know that I can get there and pin the person down and get the best of the interview, why not? And thank God I have masters in the industry that are still doing same thing. There is always an Aremo Segun Osoba who is a journalist any day any time. He is a master of the game at over 70. So, what is my own to say I want to go and retire and be doing reminiscence and all that; so if I retire at 49 what am I going to be doing when I am 60?. For me, the thrill, the beauty of journalism is in reporting. It is not in sitting down and writing opinion, it is in going out there; in being able to get interviews with rare people. We have seniors who have done it and we are following their trail. So, me I can interview anybody. I can interview somebody who just started nursery school today; I can interview somebody who is in primary school. I can interview anybody; human beings are human beings forget about age. That is why you see some of the foreign journalists who come to Nigeria, some of them are 60s and 70s but they still leave their place in search of what is going on around the world; they want to know what democracy looks like in Nigeria. 
Dr. Seye Kehinde....What goes on with today's journalism is a course for worry
You can imagine this Ebola story now, you can imagine the number of veteran foreign journalists that would have come into Nigeria in search of details because they know that a major story on Ebola in Nigeria can fetch them their life time royalty.  Journalism is done from a much more serious perspective not from the perspective of ‘oh, I am a big man and I can’t bend my back to do the work again’. At least all of us went to school and trained so what happened to all the monies our parent or guardians invested in us? Our parent invested in us and we equally went for numerous courses, I still go for courses from time to time, if I am aware of any course now, I schedule my program and go for the course because I am constantly improving myself. It is like a footballer if you don’t practice you pack off and won’t be fit. O, we have to go out and constantly re-engineer ourselves and renew our knowledge or else most of the things we learnt in school several years ago will become obsolete. So, you have to constantly be on the beat and do the job. I can get a call as I am talking to you now that I should come and do an interview, I will go straight away; for me that is what keeps me happy on the job not the phrase that ‘oh, I was once a journalist or I am a veteran journalist’, veteran with no purpose.  A journalist should always be a journalist any day any time”. 

Gbenga Dan Asabe

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