Tomi Oladipo, DW News

Tomi Oladipo, DW News

Tomi Oladipo, Journalist & Media Consultant for DW News shares his story of how he got into journalism after developing a great passion for all things media and embarking on an internship at the BBC.

Read the full interview with Tomi below as he emphasises how much Africa has to offer

What led you into journalism, and what would you be doing if you weren’t a journalist?

Growing up, I was surrounded by a news-savvy family, so whether it was listening to the BBC on the radio or watching CNN, I was fairly up-to-date with world affairs even at a young age. I passively kept up with everything. There was Nelson Mandela’s rise to power, the wars in the Balkans, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and even the OJ Simpson trial. I wanted to be on the scene, witnessing these major world events unfold. 

I developed a great passion for all things media so I knew I would end up with a career that involved some form of broadcasting. I loved radio, but also wanted to get involved in television, both on air and behind the scenes. I took whatever opportunity I had to learn about technical issues and how studios worked. That meant everything from learning how basic PA systems worked to making friends in the radio industry and watching as they took on their craft. In 2007, as I was leaving university, I made a good impression during an internship at the BBC and that became my home for the next 12 years. I got to live my dream, going places and telling stories. I was fortunate to work in radio and TV, as well as writing for web and social media.

If I didn’t get this opportunity, I would still have pursued storytelling but behind the lens. I enjoyed filming and editing, so I would have tried out directing and producing documentaries or films. If that also didn’t work out, I had also thought about graphic design, which isn’t far off.

When you’re researching stories, what compels you to work on sharing a particular story with your audience? Any hot trends we should look out for in the coming months?

Public interest is usually my driving force. Consider the girl or guy in a bus and scrolling through their phone and coming across this story. Would that person’s response be, “Hmm…I’ve learnt something I didn’t previously know.”? That was how I cut my teeth as a young reporter and a  With storytelling being a big thing for me, I also place a lot of weight on clarity. There are an unhealthy number of news reports out there for which it’s clear the journalist did not ask the simple question – ‘what is the story?’.

With so many elections this year, I expect politics to dominate news coverage. The US and UK elections, in particular, will provide an opportunity for news organisations to test out new methods of engagement considering much of the industry has been going through an identity crisis, as they attempt to keep up with social media audiences.

Why is African business so unique and what makes it so exciting to report on?

It’s bubbling with potential. It is inspiring to see people couple opportunity with hope. It is this hope that drives innovation.

Of course we can’t build everything from scratch but it is important to spotlight those who are building and making huge strides in doing so at any level.

Which sectors or industries do you like to cover most and why? 

I have spent most of my career covering geopolitics and security but I also like the curiosity in tech and business, and the complexities around stories relating to culture and history. It’s not necessarily about negative versus positive stories, but more about how much colour and nuance you find in the range of stories, and the people at the heart of them

Why is it important that people around the world get to hear about young, growing companies on the continent?

Africa has a lot to offer the world. Including these companies in mainstream news coverage, it would help them have more substantial contributions to the global discourse.

They need to be seen and heard, and they need to be trusted and respected.

How can we encourage more people to join the writing community and dedicate their energy to telling stories about African tech and business?

We need to provide the platforms and the support for other writers. Africans need to know that no one else will do the storytelling in its most authentic form better than themselves. We need greater volume, in both quantity and amplitude. Practice makes perfect. In doing this we will – I hope – raise the bar.