Some months ago, CNN launched a new, multi-platform operation in Lagos, Nigeria, designed to give the network a nimble, broad-based, digital-first presence in Africa’s most populous country. Stephanie Busari leads the operation as the Supervising Producer, Africa, and speaks on how the platform has deepened CNN’s engagement in Nigeria, the journey so far and some of the key stories covered since she took over
Five months after your appointment as Supervising Producer, Africa for CNN multi-platform bureau in Lagos, how has it been?
It’s been very busy! There are so many stories in this region that I want to tell. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to people to let them know I’m here and willing to engage with them; to collaborate and tell their stories. I have been energised by the response I have received to my appointment – it has been very touching.
What are some of the key stories you have worked on since your appointment?
The release of the Chibok girls and meeting some of them was a highlight of my journalistic career. After two and a half years covering the story it was great to see some tangible results. I will never forget the scenes of joy from the parents of the girls. Of course, the majority of them have not yet come back and there are still devastated parents praying for their daughters’ safe return.
I also covered Mark Zuckerberg’s visit to Nigeria in August and it was incredible to see how much of an impact this visit had. When he walked into the CCHub in Yaba you could hear a pin drop. Many of the entrepreneurs had not been told he was coming and he just walked in and said ‘Hi, I’m Mark’. The room erupted! People whipped out their phones and took selfies and approached him to pitch their companies. I was thrilled for the team at CCHub who have been quietly plugging away for years – it was a real validation of the excellent work they do.
CNN has also partnered with the amazing She Leads Africa, who support female entrepreneurs to have a Twitter conversation around female entrepreneurship on the continent. The first one was immensely successful and we hope to have more of them soon.
What are the key challenges you have encountered since you assumed duty in Nigeria?
I have had the usual challenges around the familiar things like traffic and the ease of getting around. Mostly, though I just wish I had more time in the day!
How would you describe the ease of information in Nigeria/Africa vis-à-vis other countries you have worked before now?
Getting information can be tricky at times! I do think more companies and government agencies need to empower more people to address the media. It’s common to hear ‘that person is not here, and they are the only ones that can talk to media.’ Sometimes, it’s just a simple enquiry but you hit a few roadblocks to get simple piece of information.
How would you describe the media landscape in Nigeria and Africa from your recent experience?
There are some interesting things going on and I’m always surprised how big the print media still is here, given its decline in other parts of the world. I like what Guardian digital is doing and I think Channels has a really good website. I was recently at the inaugural YouTube awards in South Africa which was celebrating Africa’s bloggers and content creators and was really impressed by the people taking initiative to set up their channels and create their own content, it was really encouraging and I hope to partner with and feature some of these people in the future. I’m impressed by how young people have seized the initiative here to create brands of themselves.