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SPECIAL REPORT: The Risk of being a Campus Journalist

One of the best decisions you can make is to write, it affords you the opportunity to express yourself, not just express yourself but also gives you the chance to stand in  the gap for the oppressed.

When you decide to be a writer on campus, it comes with many challenges and expectations.

Most times those who practice journalism on campus go on campus not with expectation of doing it, they get to campus and fall-in-love with it. In some other cases, many persons started writing before gaining admission or pick interest in the media before their Tertiary institution, so coming on campus; it is a right avenue for them to showcase what they have in them.

Studies have shown that the vigour that comes with campus journalism is high and it takes training to get the best out of it.

The first challenge that comes is that of getting a platform to showcase you. As a matter of fact, it is one of the first dilemma you face, you have a zeal that you must write for your departmental board and getting in is just a major challenge. Another initial challenge remains combining Campus Journalism with your education. You fight with attending editorial meetings amidst tests and other events you need to prepare for. However, we have had Campus journalists coming out tops of their class and coming out as shining lights. In recent times, the issue of training has been a forefront of campaigns and it has been helpful in amplifying voice of many young writers in the proper way.

In this work, we are going to be sharing real life stories of campus journalists who were at the peak of journalism and survived it.

Many times, when people write about what it takes to be a campus journalist especially in a society like ours where doing media is a hard task, sharing real life experience remains the best way for us to see sacrifices of student writers.

Many persons may not say it but we have corruption on our campuses, we also have the issue of maladministration and we must note that if our student writers are kept quiet, we will be doing more harm than good to the education sector.

If we have a weak education structure, the future of the country will be in jeopardy. In Nigeria, students protest for lack of water, they protest for lack of infrastructure and other decadences. We have had many student activists suspended in the course of their fight for better welfarism and we have had some of them reinstatement, all thanks to student reporters who have brought the attention of the world to the plight of these ones. Let us also know that there is a saying in Nigeria that you do not talk while eating even if you are eating stone, this is the reason why Universities for instance will say students do not have the right to defame their citadel and by reporting the ills, they are causing bad damage for their institution. One would ask severally why the bad system should not be reported but mainstream journalists cannot report more, they are not in the system, only student journalists can boldly report such.

The challenge of Campus journalism is not limited alone to the institution, the society also plays a role. How do you answer questions like “Did we send you to school to do Campus Journalism?  “What is your business, why can you not graduate and leave”? The issue of your own safety is another thing, if you are lucky to school in an institution where the management is fighting to curb cultism then it may become suicidal to even do good journalism for many reasons some of which cannot be stated in this book. Recently, campus journalists have begun cross-breeding story ideas. Students of the University of Ibadan now write about Obafemi Awolowo University and others in same manner, this is to escape the damage and image destruction claims that has been used to victimize many journalists.

At the Youths Digest we organize the yearly Campus Journalism awards in the quest to recognize young journalists who have continued to weather the storm in reporting the truth and nothing but the truth.

The award which as at the time of this book is in its third edition has given more confidence to young writers across campuses. The first edition saw Alfred Olufemi, one of the campus journalists whose story we share in this book winning the campus journalist of the year award. The second edition saw Maryam Abdullahi winning the Campus Journalist of the year, the versatile Maryam was a student of the Usman Danfodiyo University as at the time of winning.

The challenge we are beginning to face is maintaining the quality of journalists the recent years has produced on campus. I should not be misconstrued to encourage journalists to stand as stubborn bottlenecks against their managements but we need to ask ourselves what manner of future we want for our journalism. Our major focus should be; Campus journalists should report based on the ethics of journalism and should be taught to report nothing but the truth. Although, the reality remains the issue of complex victimization that may be used to silence many journalists into motivational speakers. We must note that many journalists who are doing exceptionally well nowadays started from campus. We can start mentioning names but the history speak for itself. The men who have continued to make us proud picked their grit from campus and this kind of men must be moulded even more from across campuses.

I have also been a victim of victimization in the process of giving a voice to young journalists. As a matter of fact, as at the time of writing this book, I am going through a court case involving Alfred Olufemi written story about a Rice producing organization in Kwara. His report was said to be inappropriate by the organization over one year after it’s publish. I was manhandled and whisked away from my Abuja residence to Kwara state by personnel of the Nigerian Police force on October 31st, 2019. I and Alfred Olufemi are going through a case of defamation and Criminal conspiracy. Although I have resolved not to give in to this case of silencing the truth but it is what we face every-day in the process of trying to create a platform for young journalists to write. It should be noted that we promote reporting on media ethics and values. My webmaster Adekoya Adebowale was also nabbed in Lagos on October 25, 2019 over same story by Alfred Olufemi.

Not too long ago, YouthsDigest in Collaboration with CISLAC hosted the campus journalism Dialogue in Kano State, we are making concerted efforts in ensuring that we build a sustainable future for these young reporters who are the future of the media of Nigeria and indeed a shining light to the world.

As the Editor of this platform, there have been challenges. The issue of funding and instilling confidence remains core and has necessitated writing and sharing this story.

I have heard stories, many campus journalists have shared me their stories but below is the experience of five select journalists in their quest to do campus journalism.


Adekunle Adebajo is a well-known name in the field of journalism especially after his travails from the University of Ibadan management under the leadership of Professor Idowu Olayinka.

Kunle Adebajo was suspended for two semesters by the University of Ibadan for publishing an article titled “Irony of fashionable rooftops and awful interiors”. The critical article spoke extensively about the state of the University’s hostels and the sorry state of the University amenities.

This article got the University angry especially as the management opined that it painted them in bad light.

Kunle Adebajo was in his final year studying Law when the suspension was announced. Although it drew widespread condemnation and protest, the University failed to rescind its decision. The suspension also targeted making law school impossible for him.

Speaking about the incident, he said he never regretted writing the article. According to Kunle while sharing his thoughts stated that it has been a life-changing experience for him which he is grateful for.

He also stated that although he doesn’t know if his story has inspired anyone to do campus journalism but campuses in Nigeria need more conscious and persuasive writers to shape attitudes on various campuses. Adekunle also noted that he will continue writing critical pieces

“Certainly, any piece that is political but not critical is not worth writing (except as a parody of how not to do journalism). Even news reports need to be critical. If we don’t criticize the things we are told or the things people have presumed normal, then society will likely remain as it is. Our universities need to more tolerant of dissenting voices and our students need to be more independent-minded and outspoken” Kunle noted.

He also noted that he does not have any grudge against anyone and all that happened to him happened for a reason which he does not regret.


Campus Journalism was the best thing that happened to me as an undergraduate. I started writing about the ills and odds in my university the very day I got admitted. I was seen as a protest writer in my 100 level days.  In fact, the first activity I did on campus was protest. A senior colleague who loves my writing then advise me to go into campus journalism and trust me, it was really worth it.

I may not graduate too well like my colleagues who attend classes and sit for every class test, but I can tell you, the practice of journalism helped shaped my like.

The Association of Campus Journalists in my school gave me support and having understood that I really wanted to be the voice of the voiceless, I was able to cope.

It wasn’t ‘rossy’ at the start but with the practice of campus journalism, my parents had to pay my school fees for just a session. Campus journalism with ethical standard foot my bills through -out my stay as undergraduate.

 We’ve done great reports that transform the institution, education sector and the nation at large. In a nutshell, I will say campus journalism for me seems to be the main reason why I went to university. It’s basically all I spent my four years doing and again, it worth it. It gave birth to “Campus Journalism Beginners’ Handbook” and “Campus Press Hub”.

There was pressure from home, most especially from my mother. The Proprietor of my Primary school was fully aware of my activities on campus and as such, she reported me to my mum who wondered if I am the first person to go to school and why I was always among those disrupting the peace on campus. On a long run, the pressure from home reduced but was left with threat from university authorities and the students union who felt bad because of series of report exposing their corruption and negligence causing death of students.  By the time I got to my third year, there was rumor of the plan but university management to suspend me and some other colleagues for always painting the University in bad light. But because I knew I don’t have anything to loose for saying the truth, I continue to follow the ethics and in wrote things worse. When we reported the delay in release of results, the University management reduced the number of students they admit, after our report on decay infrastructures, the authority renovated the hostels and some affected classrooms. I won’t graduate as a top class student which ordinary I should achieve, but I’m proud of the little contribution we’ve done to the development of Nigeria. At least, my series on Professor Richard Akindele sex-for-mark scandal was part of evidences that were used to nail him in jail for two years. This, I am proud of despite all challenges.

I would have loved to say money is another major challenge, but unlike others, I was privilege to have platforms supporting my practice since I got to 200 level and those platforms have not allowed me go hungry in pursuit of Justice.

Well, it was actually passion that sustained me all through. There have been several instances that I told myself, I won’t write again but I wake up the following morning asking myself what is biggest scandal to unravel again.

I’ve been physically attacked and also psychologically, but thank God today, I didn’t listen to the voice that called me to stop. I’m fully prepared for the mainstream practice.


Anyone says Campus Journalism is an easy drive? That’s a sheer lie. It’s a challenging one. Multitasking as a journalist and still studying a full time course is like dating two jealous ladies at the same time. Both needs consistency and time.While on campus as a student journalist, I meddled between ending well and making a beautiful after school life by doing both without one gnashing on another.

The first challenge was when I wrote a two-part investigative piece on how students of Victoria High school in Osogbo have their West African Examination result through deep rooted malpractice for The NewsDigest in March 2018. I always heard of it that a reporter is being cursed. The Proprietor of the school sent curses in text and in voice messages after being presented the evidences in pictures and videos. Then I thought I can’t continue with this but I realised that if the mainstream journalists have stopped, who will expose Kemi Adeosun? Who will set the record of our institution straight?

I also wrote an undercover report about The Polytechnic, Ibadan and I must confess how difficult it was given the several threats that followed the report.

I can say the quick way to get rusticated in a university is by being a campus journalist. I and my colleagues scaled through these deadlines and we weren’t scared by the threats of the University management. Though several times we were surmounted to series of meeting with the school Vice chancellor and the division of Student’ affairs, but the question we did ask was, is there any element of falsity in this piece? Then, this resonates why campus journalists should stand by core ethics of the profession of truthfulness and being unbiased. This will not only help their works; it will take their integrity higher than they will ever think.


Alfred shared with us his experience.

My dad called me after dinner one night and he asked if truly I want to pursue a career in journalism. Sincerely, his question was understandable. It was borne out of the summons from security agents over stories I wrote while on campus. He was concerned because I was to appear in the court the next Monday over an investigative story and the next Tuesday in the Osun state criminal Investigation department of the police force- it was over another publication. These were not the only persecutions I encountered as a student journalist.

Although recognition, laurels and awards came during the journey, practicing journalism on campus was much of a herculean task than what an onlooker can observe. It came with series of threats from authorities, missing lectures, psychological trauma and all- perhaps, I made it difficult for myself with the quest to uncover atrocities eating up the system.

I could recall days I could not sleep in my room, being the price to be paid for reporting the apprehension of some suspected cultists on campus. Of course, I was careful. Made sure major ethics of journalism were ticked at every point but owing to the desperation of the people hit by the sword of the pen, you cannot just go scot free for any report published against their interests. Nonetheless, some factors made the three years of news writing, investigations and conducting interviews as a student journo less risky. They include; collaboration with like-minds, support from mainstream media outfits like News Digest, Premium Times newspaper and others, and basically, churning out accurate and balanced reports.

Meanwhile, I answered my dad’s question in the opening paragraph with a pledge to pursue the public good through critical reporting irrespective of the challenges ahead, now that I have graduated. Indeed, campus journalism prepared me, at all fronts, for the mainstream media!

Alfred Olufemi is a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, a multiple-award winning journalist, news editor and public affair analyst.


On 9th November, 2019, I wrote an article titled: Is ASUU Enacting A Hidden Agenda in Its Resistance to IPPIS? Which was widely published by National Dailies. It was first published by Nigerian Tribune on 13th November, and subsequently by about 6 other newspapers.

On 14th November at about 2pm, my HOD called me and said that “You’re in trouble Rabiu concerning the article you wrote against ASUU, because the national headquarters called Kano chapter chairman and told him that they must educate you”. I instantly felt into emotional anxiety because I knew my studentship was at stake.  I immediately called my mentor, Mr Yushau Shuaib and informed him about the development. He advised me to calm down and assured me that by God grace nothing will happen to me because I only exercised my professional and constitutional responsibility. His words made me to feel ease for a while.

On 15th November my HOD called me and said that I should write another article to debunk what I wrote about the ASUU, where I consulted Mr Yushau Shuaib again and he said I should not write because it’s a professional compromise.

The following day, an unknown number called me about the issue claiming to be one of the ASUU member, and intimidates me. “You as a bloody student have the gut to write against your teachers right? He asked and I didn’t say a word. He to continue that “You’re only being stupid and that I assure you that you must be punished” and I still didn’t say a word, he ended the call.

Finally, with prayer and words of encouragement from Mr Yushau I was able to stand firm during the trying time, and up till now, some lecturers were intimidating me with unprintable names, but I have survived that stage and even have earned the respect of my Head of Department who was at the PRNigeria Centre, Kano for my internship graduation ceremony.

This is a special report by the Youths Digest Campus Journalism Initiative. 

Compiled by: Olanrewaju Oyedeji, Segun Adeyemi and Mahmud Abdulsalam

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Mike

    I’m also campus journalist, I’m reporting objectively, I’m going through a bad time because of my reports, I wish there is any organization that helps.

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