Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, in collaboration with Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Anambra Council, has commenced a professional diploma in journalism programme for unqualified journalists, at the institution.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Awka, Prof. Stella Okunna, the Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences of the university, said more than 70 journalists applied for the programme.
Okunna, a professor of Mass Communication, said 38 applicants had been offered admission in the first batch of the 18 months programme.
“There has always been an anxiety in the profession where people say it is an all comers affair; for the profession of journalism to measure up with other professions, qualification is a key thing.
“The programme is expected to help bridge the gap; it is a form of empowerment for people who are already practising in the field without a qualification,” she said.
Okunna urged media workers to brace to new challenges in the industry by acquiring necessary skills to enrich their works.
According to her, those who are not conversant with social media should quit the profession.
“The profession has one of the most powerful tools for information dissemination, education and enlightenment but how can you enlighten or educate people when you do not know anything yourself?
“Knowledge now is brokered by the new media even with the continuous existence of the traditional media,” Okunna added.
The professor said the programme would strengthen the capacities and theoretical knowledge of unqualified journalists and boost their confidence among colleagues.
On his part, the state Chairman of NUJ, Mr Emmanuel Ifesinachi, said the programme was developed to assist working journalists without academic qualification.
Ifesinachi said the union was determined to rid the industry of unqualified and unprofessional practitioners.
“This is one of the things we are doing as a body to ensure professionalism and that practitioners are kept in the know of current developments in terms of techniques, technicalities and ethics of the profession.
“We cannot say we are professionals when we are not on top of the profession,” Ifesinachi said.
He urged journalists without qualification to take advantage of the programme.
The chairman commended the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku, for facilitating and reducing the cost of the programme to N55, 000 per session.