Interviews

The Opportunities To Partner with key People And Tell Stories Beyond The Usual Are Huge in Nigeria – Stephanie Busari, CNN

Stephanie busari
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.
Stephanie busari

Stephanie Busari

It’s been over five months now since your appointment as Supervising Producer, Africa for CNN multi-platform bureau in Lagos. How has it been so far?

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.

Tell us about some 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.

Stephanie Busari photos

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 your 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 in 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.

 

What are the opportunities you have spotted in this environment and how are you planning to tap into them in no distant time?

The opportunities to partner with key people and tell stories beyond the usual are huge. There are so many dynamic people, especially young people. I love what the guys at Budgit are doing and I’m looking for opportunities to do some Virtual Reality storytelling with a Nigerian or African-based company. Let’s devise something cool together!

 

In what ways has the establishment of this multi-platform bureau deepened your operations in Nigeria and Africa?

Our efforts are a lot more consolidated and our social footprint is growing rapidly. CNN’s audience is more mobile savvy – social media is a key part of that. Over 60% of all global page views on CNN are on mobile now. In Africa specifically, one in ten affluent people access CNN on their mobile phones every month.

 

How would you describe the media landscape in Nigeria and Africa, having worked here for some months now?

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 vloggers 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, people like Olorisupergal come to mind.

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