Media industry experts have charged universities to take the modern needs of the industry into consideration in training of mass communication students.
This was the consensus at the maiden edition of Town & Gown Series, an initiative of Mass Communication Department of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, aimed at bringing about valuable interaction between classroom and industry.
The event with the theme “Exploring Emerging Opportunities in Media and Communication,” was organized in partnership with Beyond Community Care Foundation (BECCAF), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) founded by Chief Dennis Ezebuilo, Ogbuodudu II, Igwe-elect of Amanuke-Eri kingdom.
The event which was held on August 19, at ASUU NAU Secretariat, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, also saw 10 indigent students and people living with disabilities receive empowerment from the partnering NGO.
Also, the Town & Gown Series event saw media experts speaking to the students on the best ways to pursue a fulfilling career, charging them to explore the emerging opportunities in the media and communication industry.
In his remarks as chairman on the occasion, Chief Tony Onyima, Ph.D., former Managing Director of The Sun Publishing Limited and former Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Culture, stressed the importance of mentorship in media profession and charged Nigerian universities to review their curriculum to reflect the modern needs of the media industry.
Onyima noted that social media has tremendously disrupted traditional media and at the same time thrown up new opportunities.
He charged the students to take advantage of the emerging realities in the new media ecosystem.
Also speaking at the event, Mr Jika Attoh, a notable broadcaster who was the guest lecturer, urged the students to develop sound writing skills to survive in the profession irrespective of the platform.
Attoh, who is the executive director, West Africa Broadcast & Media Academy, said that content creation, blogging and editing are lucrative areas students could engage in to earn income, instead of walking round the streets in search of scarce paid employment.
Attoh advised the students to fact-check and verify their sources in the course of their practice to avoid libelous publications that have often been used by politicians to destroy media houses and practitioners.
Speaking, Co-Chairman of the occasion and MD/CEO of Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS), Chief Uche Nworah, Ph.D. urged the mass communication students to emulate the giant footprints of professionals who have made enormous contributions for the growth of society through practice of journalism.
Nworah preached self-development as key to expertise in the job, challenging the students to take charge of their destiny by believing in themselves.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Head, Department of Mass Communication, Prof Chinwe Uzochukwu, said: ‘Town & Gown Series’ was aimed at bringing about a valuable interface between students undergoing training in the classroom and professionals in the industry.
Prof. Uzochukwu said that the partnership with Beyond Community Care Foundation which made the maiden edition possible was timely as it coincided with the time when the mass communication discipline is being unbundled for better efficiency.
She thanked the planning committee led by Dr. Odogwu Emeka for their effort in making the event a reality.
She disclosed that the department will welcome future partnership from generous individuals and bodies towards sustenance of the initiative.
She encouraged the students to take advantage of the event to chart a course to career greatness in the media and communication industry.
Also, the Vice- Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof Charles Esimone, lauded Prof Uzochukwu, on the initiative, and pointed out that the programme is in line with the ‘Project 200’ of his administration aimed at raising quality students to be active players in the industries.
Esimone, represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), Prof Joseph Ikechebelu, said: ‘Town and Gown Series’ was initiated in the institution to foster relationship between the academic community and the industry.
He appealed to the students to allow the knowledge gained to yield fruits in their lives even as he commended the empowerment given to less privileged students, describing it as a unique initiative by the department and called on other departments to emulate that.
In his contribution, Prof. Uche Nwogwugwu, dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, described the programme as an intercourse between the students and professionals where the key players of the industry orientate and mentor students on what they would face after school.
Founder of Beyond Community Care Foundation (BECCAF), Chief Dennis Ezebuilo, said that the partnership with the department was geared towards galvanizing and training students through mentorship to have a successful career after graduation.
Chief Ezebuilo who was represented by Mr Onuora Aninwobodo, said that the organization strives to reduce poverty, enhance rural development and ensure overall development of the country through skill acquisition and sound education.
He warned the students against not taking seriously the invaluable opportunity the event offered to them, as some before them did not get such opportunity.
He expressed the hope that the organisation would have more opportunities to partner with the university in future.
Panelists and other media and communication experts who spoke at the event offered words of encouragement to the students as well as introducing them the secrets that established them as standout figures in the media and communication industry.
Speaking on behalf of other beneficiaries, a student living with disability who got a brand new wheel chair, Miss Chidimma Nwadialu, said that it was her first time of seeing that a department in a university ciuld actually care for her students in that way.
She thanked the Head of Department, Prof Uzochukwu, for partnering with Beyond Community Care Foundation for the Town and Gown series, which brought about the smiles on their faces.
Eberi Will, a 100-level student of the department, performed a spoken word poetry at the event.