Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Given the chance, what advice would you give your younger self? We asked investigative journalist and One World Media award winner, Ruona Meyer to take a trip down memory lane and share the advice she wishes she’d received as a young journalist.
You’ll question why you chose journalism, constantly, but that’s okay – it means you are doing things the right way. With time, you’ll realise that true journalism is an often thankless, unprofitable venture that instead chooses you.
Speaking of unprofitable, that will be only in the monetary sense – your life will be enriched by the lives of those your stories showcase and touch, the places journalism will take you to, and the privilege of discerning thought it will afford you.
Speaking of privilege, never use your gender, sexuality, or race as a crutch to garner privilege – that is the weaker, though popular option. A crutch will hobble you, eventually. In time, society may fashion your sexuality, race and gender into a ladder upon which you will be encouraged to climb. You must resist the urge to hinge your craft solely on crutches and ladders – your gender, sexuality and race is instead a bridge.
Use it to bring together unique stories, sub-cultures and perspectives that enlighten our world.
Speaking of unique perspectives, your super-power in this profession will be your ability to articulate authenticity of voice: whether yours, or those whom you report on, and for. This will bring longevity to your career, despite what media you report in.
Speaking of media, be ready to adapt – print will be comfortable, until digital arrives, then data journalism will be the next challenge, all while social media continues its metamorphosis. You must remain ready to face your fears, to get the skills that will keep you relevant.
Speaking of skills, do not let your circumstances prevent you from access – apply for fellowships, grants, and take their requirements seriously; deliver quality.
Speaking of quality, in time you’ll realise you are only as good as the quality of your relationships, not the quantity.
Network responsibly, and in good faith.
Ruona Meyer is an Emmy-nominated, freelance multimedia investigative journalist with 16 years’ experience across print, radio, wire agency and digital outlets in Nigeria, South Africa, and the UK. She has notably worked with the BBC, the Financial Times, Reuters, BattaboxTV and NEXT Newspapers. Sweet Sweet Codeine, her investigation for the BBC (published in April 2018) was awarded the One World Media TV Documentary Award in June 2019. In September 2019, Sweet Sweet Codeine bagged a first Emmy nomination for the BBC World Service and Nigeria.
Also named Investigative Journalist of the Year in 2013 in Nigeria, Ruona has postgraduate degrees in Journalism from Wits University, South Africa, and the University of Westminster, London. Ruona is currently a PhD scholar at the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Technology at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. Her research interrogates the construct of counterpower within cross-border investigative journalism networks.
Calling all aspiring journalists and filmmakers!
Apply to the One World Media Fellowship! The Fellowship supports new talent from around the world to produce engaging and creative media in developing countries. Selected fellows receive a £1000 production grant, one-to-one mentoring and a year-round programme of industry workshops and webinars.
Deadline for entries: 2 April 2020