Paul Adepoju Joins as ICFJ Forum Manager to Help Fellow Journalists Hone Health Crisis Reporting Skills

By: Paul Adepoju | 03/05/2021
Paul Adepoju is a veteran freelance health reporter and media entrepreneur based in Ibadan, Nigeria.

ICFJ’s Global Health Crisis Reporting Forum, in partnership with our International Journalists’ Network (IJNet), is an initiative aimed to help journalists debunk misinformation and provide lifesaving coverage on the COVID-19 Pandemic. The forum is available in five languages and moderated by community managers. Meet our new English-language Forum Manager, Paul Adepoju. 

I’m the new community manager for the English-language Forum. As I begin this journey, I’d like to share how I got here. Even though it has been in the making, COVID-19 certainly propelled things.

I’m not sure where I was when the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Nigeria. But I knew what I did that evening after scheduling stories on a health news blog I run. I cooked noodles, sent a couple of pitches to editors, and I searched for flights to Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city because I needed to urgently visit the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) to interview the Director-General, who had just returned from a WHO trip to understudy China’s response to the pandemic. 

While waiting for the story that I wrote from my visit to NCDC to get published, I began to think of issues that subsequently became published stories — how safe Nigerian frontline health workers are against the virus, the impact on other health programs including tuberculosis control and neglected tropical diseases, and how politics within and beyond science could get in the way of national, regional and local responses to COVID-19. I also asked how I could put to use my science background, which includes a Ph.D. in the genetics of infectious diseases, in helping fellow journalists understand the complex scientific issues that all of us were now covering.

Prior to COVID-19, I was on a personal mission to get more African science and health content on the front pages of newspapers, magazines and other news channels I work with, such as Devex and Quartz. Then COVID-19 happened. COVID-19 has really shown that health reporting can also dominate news headlines for days, months, possibly years.

Joining ICFJ in this capacity gives me the opportunity to help fellow journalists hone their health crisis reporting skills especially during the story of our lifetimes: a 21st-century pandemic. While relying on the solid foundation that the amazing team at ICFJ has built this past year, we (yes, we) also have an opportunity to learn, share and engage even more through the Forum. I look forward to an amazing time doing just that—shaking things up.

So I invite you to join me on this equally invigorating and exciting journey. I welcome questions and ideas on how the Forum can better serve you, what you’d like us to focus on and approaches we should consider. You can reach me via email (PAdepoju@icfj.org). 

Thank you very much and I hope to see you at my first webinar!

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