Devolving Beat Journalism: The Example Of ClimateAfrica Magazine

Journalism is fast changing. And this change is developing from different dimensions. The first is in the way we practice it, and the quality and context of practitioners, reflected in the increasing difficulty in gate-keeping information and in discerning who the ideal practitioner is. Second is the change from the rise of information diffusion channels, leading to the pluralization of avenues, and the challenge of policing the burgeoning outlets.

The third is governance interests, sometimes reflected in brazen control mechanisms, and other times showcased in inhibiting legislatures. And forth for the meantime, is the 21st century expansion of human scopes, and the attendant intensity of activities within individual spaces, often requiring gauging for understanding, appreciation, reviews and for further development. The last bit highlights the question of specialised reporting, which has grown over years, but should grow more in coming years with the frenzied multiplication of human dimensions.

In years past, we have identified some areas of journalism specialization as Politics, Judiciary, Oil and Gas, Finance, Sports, Education, Science, Housing, Environment, and a little more, especially in the developing climes like Nigeria.

In more developed climes, these areas have even expanded further to Legislature, Party Affairs, and Presidency for politics; and Football, Tennis, Basketball, and Swimming, for sports, as instances. Therefore, we frequently have writers identified as Football Reporter, Tennis Reporter, Legislative Analyst, and Party Affairs Reporter, amongst others.

Here, it is also possible to see the link between the disaggregation of beats and the level of social evolution, aside the planetary acknowledgement of the changing world of communication. Despite these, however, we cannot say we have not been reactive enough to the breaking down of beats in the bid to capture humanity’s everyday essences, from the prism of the Nigerian state.

Not a few media houses, surviving or defunct, including The Guardian, National Concord, Daily Times, ThisDay, The Punch, New Nigeria, Democrat, etc, covered beats from the lenses of specialisms in the eighties, stretching into the nineties, and continuing into the two thousands.


What this means is that we are making efforts, even if the distance is still far. ClimateAfrica magazine is one more attempt at coping with the changes in human essences, and the need to cope. While the focus could fall under the bigger picture of Environment, Science, Geography, the compartmentalization seeks to break down an important element of human life, aside providing a clearer picture of the Climate Change question, not just because of the physical effect of the phenomenon, but for the rising attention it is getting in political, governance and diplomatic spheres.

It is for this reason that NatureNews Media Limited ( deserves commendation, and the more reason its Publisher, Aliu Akoshile, deserves our salutes for this vision, mission and cardinal objectives, weaved around the expansion of our understanding on a menacing subject, and the attendant need to find solutions, both in the long and the short term, through gathering, reporting, analyzing and interpreting news on Climate Change.

We can name some issues related to Climate Change as desertification, conservation, deforestation, biodiversity, land use, ozone diversity, water and air pollution, erosion, and migration, amongst others. These issues may not be exhaustive, but they cover the inquiries that humanity is yet making on the subject. It is the reason, I suppose, that NatureNews content is also divergent, covering sections like Focus, Discourse, Issues, Insight, Special Report, Nature’s Game, Agric Business, Climate Impart, and Green Tech.

The sections are deliberate in the bid to capture the broad matters on climate change, including national and multilateral responses; individual approaches to it, plus comments, opinions and writings; official and unofficial responses, amongst others. Rich in use of images, the magazine complements textual rendition of senses in the bid to not only capture the imaginations of readers, but to affect their appreciation of the subject.

The well packaged, 54-page, publication is also creative in planning and ingenious in design. In doing this, they show an understanding of an unpredictable nature against the need to enliven it with words, and images, besides exemplifying the therapeutic power of nature, man’s quest to overcome its vagaries, and the pleasure of our daily interactions with it. The magazine is therefore wholesome in the systematization of inputs, the demonstrated visual effects, the quality of writing, and in the promise it holds.

ClimateAfrica, with the slogan, Nurturing a Living Environment, has charted a fresh course, a specialised sequence, that is a logical response to the times we are in, and that departs from the usual temptation to privilege politics, economics, entertainment, and such others in publications. This path is pathfinding, confident, and courageous, but would require commitment to ensure sustainability.

Regardless, it will do better in its mission if it eliminates sections like Focus, Discourse, Issues, Insight, and Special Report, which are conventional, and replace them with Climate Change issues like desertification, conservation, deforestation, biodiversity, land use, ozone diversity, water and air pollution, erosion, and migration, consistent with its overarching focus and philosophy. This should further enhance the more appropriate sections they already have like those on Nature’s Game, Agric Business, Climate Impact, and Green Tech.

Overall, this is an excellent attempt at boosting specialised journalism, and in diversifying the processes of educating, entertaining, and informing the populace, in line with the constitutional role of the journalist and the modern need for the continued devolution of reporting focus. I congratulate the publisher and the organisation for this initiative, and I wish you well. God bless us all. God bless the media industry.

Abiodun Adeniyi, Professor and Head, Mass Communication, Baze University, Abuja, presented the review at the first anniversary of NatureNews ( and launch of ClimateAfrica magazine.

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