By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

In its determination to ensure that Nigerians don’t suffer from Sugar Sweetened Beverages(SSBs) related complications, the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) recently trained Journalists in Abuja to improve their capacity so as to ensure proper media advocacy on the challenges of SSBs.

At the two-day training on Sugar Sweetened Beverages(SSBs) Tax and Industry Monitoring,
the Organisation said that the media needs the proper information so as to take the advocacy to the grassroots.

Speaking, the Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi,explained that the training on policy and health issues surrounding (SSB) Tax in Nigeria was apt as they will continue to build the power of Journalists to speak up on behalf of the Nigerian public.
He said the training was also to make the media dig deep into issues from different angles and perspectives.
He said the training will improve the media’s capacity on this specific issue adding that journalists is not only to interrogate these ideas and policies of government but to also sniff lives out of bad narratives that are making the rounds and causing Nigerians to turn against a policy they should be supporting.
In a paper presentation on Conducting Investigations into Health and SSB Tax issues, the Executive Director, International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) Dayo Aiyetan explained that investigative journalism involves exposing to
the public matters that are concealed–either deliberately by someone in a position of power, or accidentally, behind a chaotic mass of facts and circumstances that obscure understanding. It requires using both secret and open sources and documents.
He highlighted the essential elements of Investigative Journalism which are; reporting that involves digging beyond the available information, it must produce new facts or information or treat existing information in a way that gives it more significance, it must be in the public interest and it must be multi sourced amongst others .

Also speaking, Francis Fagbule, a Public Health Professional, urged
journalists to focus on Public health so as to effectively explore the area.

He said, “SSBs include any liquids, powders, or other concentrated forms that contain natural or added sweeteners, not limited to and including various forms of sugars like brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, and sucrose. This may include soft drinks (i.e., cola), juices (even 100% juices), nectars, sweetened coffee, sugar cane juice, sweetened tea, energy drinks, and flavored dairy.

“SSBs are among the leading sources of free sugars, and they contain little-to-no added nutritional value.

“Individuals who consume SSBs do not compensate for the added calories by eating less food, which leads to weight gain and obesity.

“Studies show that SSBs may pose greater health risks, including the risk of metabolic syndrome, compared to sugar-containing solid foods.
Speaking on the issue in Nigeria, he said over 50% increase in the proportion of households that consumed soft drinks outside the home in 2010 (27%) compared to 2018 (42%).
He said media outlets, such as radio and TV, can give people information to improve their health

“News stories and campaigns can also have an impact on people who make decisions.

“In supporting health the media should: Tell true stories about the things that impact on health in an interesting way. Give the public an opportunity to debate and talk about health issues. Report on health and in health emergencies in a way that is responsible and honest. Hold the government and people who make decisions to account. Social media and digital platforms can help to expand public coverage of an issue.”

On how to excite editors with stories, Declan Okpalaeke, an award winning investigative journalist, said journalists must write to attract the attention of the editor.

“Before you approach the editor, know the story you want to tell.

“Understand the subject. Read. Research. Know the experts you will interview for each angle of the story. Outline them. Know those that the story affects, the sources you will interview, the voices that will enliven the story. Outline them. Know the places, the institutions, you have to visit, the travels you have to make. Outline them.

“Don’t complicate things. Don’t use jargons or unnecessary acronyms. Don’t try to impress the editor. He/she will not be impressed. He has no time. He will be pissed.

“Explain the story in a few sentences. This will show that you have a grasp of the story. Say what the story is about, and why the story is important. Be ready with necessary facts. A few statistics to answer the simple questions he/she will/may ask.”

He urged them to concentrate on human angle stories.

“Your editor does not care about one tax so-called SSB tax. There are so many different taxes. Why should he single out this one?

“But perhaps will care about people dying, about children being orphaned, about people falling sick and being incapacitated, about people being unable to work and losing income, about the effect of this on the overall economy? Perhaps he will care about the improvement in the health infrastructure, about greater revenue for the government, about improvement in the economy which all will mean a better live for the people. Remember: Journalism is about people.”

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