Media for development: Beyond our role as watchdogs

Sherriff Tahiru
5 min readJan 31, 2020
Zaria, Kaduna State, Northern Nigeria 2018

Against all it's visual and its cerebral attractions, my journey into the media world was a personal one, triggered by thinking about better ways that the same things we are already doing can be done. That’s why It has been an exciting three months of poring through the work YIAGA Africa has been doing in Nigeria. I found it was a refreshing escape from writing about politics and governance — even though so many of the contexts are interrelated.

Much of my interest in the media is how it can influence development. I began reflecting on this as a cost controller for Afrosia Energy in Oghara, a small community in Delta State, Southern Nigeria. In my two years working from one community to another across Nigeria, I was confronted with questions like why locals, from a community we were trying to install transformers for electricity, kept coming into the plant at night to steal the transformer oils. Why the Nigerian government and energy companies were sabotaging themselves. Why a country of over a hundred and fifty million people didn’t have steady electricity in this more modern age.

I started with blog posts, and in 2012 I joined online news organization Citizens Platform as an intern staff writer. For one year I wrote five reports and five copy edited stories a day, one subject matter article a week and carried out a field report for a collaborative story to be published once a month. After this, I attended a social media journalism training which was followed up with a three years freelance reporting career: picking up media fixing and stringing gig’s from BuzzFeed, the Washington Post, CCTV Africa, Danish Radio, Daily Telegraph London, and while at this, writing as a columnist for online media NAIJ, for one full year. In summary, in all these years, I was co-creating news.

It hit me in 2016 that I couldn’t write the country out of its problems or write myself out of my own increasing living expenses. So in 2016, it came as an exciting opportunity to join Reboot: an organization that was at the time carrying out a landscape analysis of the media ecosystem for Nigeria and Ghana. Also, an organization where people are turning ideas into programs that promote development. The rest of this story, which is practically the last ten years of my life, includes setting up a social enterprise

Sherriff Tahiru

Researcher | Columnist | Analyst