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article imageFrom Africa with a love of news: Profile of a Digital Journalist Special

By David Silverberg     Oct 25, 2011 in Internet
How does an African journalist share news from his small community? In this profile of Digital Journalist Samuel Okocha, you'll get a peek into the passion behind a multi-media reporter tracking stories from Lagos, Nigeria.
For Samuel Okocha, journalism is all about his love of people. "I love meeting people from varying backgrounds," he says in an interview. The Digital Journalist from Lagos says he enjoys sharing experiences of the people he meets through mass media platforms and indie news outlets such as Digital Journal. He is always looking for under-reported stories the mainstream media may miss.
Residing in a suburb of Lagos in Nigeria, the 28-year-old says reporting from Africa takes a different kind of journalistic eye. "The fact that Lagos is home to Nigerians from all ethnic groups and many tribes makes it an exciting place to live," he says.
Okocha is also quick to point out the importance of reporting stories from his continent. "I know there are people who think Africa is a land of forest and monkeys jumping around. To some, it is a continent of war, diseases and hunger. But in reality, there is more to Africa than all that."
Digital Journalist Samuel Okocha on his computer
Digital Journalist Samuel Okocha on his computer
Courtesy Samuel Okocha
On Digital Journal, Okocha has written on and photographed Lagos while also tackling political issues in Nigeria. His Special Reports often include the perspectives of everyday Nigerians on issues affecting their homeland.
His passion for journalism is also reflected in his day job: He presents news bulletins for Voice of Nigeria, the country's state radio network. He's also been asked to cover many reporting assignments, such as last April's governorship elections where he wrote about the region Rivers State.
Okocha also enjoys stretching his reporting range. "I like and have written human interest stories ranging from arts, culture, health, local business, sports, ICT and politics as the case may be," he points out.
Living in Lagos
Okocha came from "an average Nigerian family," as he calls it. His father worked as an aircraft engineer for Nigerian Airways and his mother teaches at the local primary school. Until August, he lived with his parents and siblings and has since moved into his own one-bedroom apartment where he relaxes after working a full day at Voice of Nigeria.
Even at night, Okocha is thinking with a journalistic head. "Going to the bar in the evenings to relax and watch other Nigerians relaxing relieves me of the stress and gives me inspiration and ideas for more stories," he says.
A street in Lagos  Nigeria
A street in Lagos, Nigeria
Courtesy Samuel Okocha
He spent several years studying Social Studies at the Obafemi Awolowo University before a friend introduced him to the campus news agency and he soon became a staff writer. He fell in love with writing news.
"Every day and every week, I look forward to breaking new grounds in my quest to become a full multimedia journalist," Okocha proclaims.
His most memorable job? "My first radio job as a presenter on a radio station in Osun state where I was a university student. I was producing and presenting a musical program then and delivered entertainment news in addition to conducting interviews with major Nigerian artistes in the process. That formed the foundation of my foray into broadcast and online journalism."
Okocha stresses how responsible on-the-ground reporting in Africa would help the West learn more about Nigeria and other countries. He also hopes news outlets reach out to local African journalists to help inform news readers about what is truly happening in Africa.
Residents relaxing in Lagos  Nigeria
Residents relaxing in Lagos, Nigeria
Courtesy Samuel Okocha
Okocha recognizes the challenges Nigerians must face in order to get their stories heard, or even to relax in the face of rising poverty rates. "The majority of Nigerians are poor, so the struggle to survive means no time and no means to properly unwind."
Okocha enjoys reporting for Digital Journal because he feels confident his journalism is reaching an audience looking for diverse news.
"I like Digital Journal because it gives me a platform to tell African stories to an international audience from the perspective of an independent reporter on the ground," he said.
More about Africa, Nigeria, samuel okocha, Lagos, Digital Journalist
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