#TheYNaijaInterview: Our biggest audience on The Stream is in Nigeria – Al Jazeera’s Femi Oke

by Wilfred Okiche

Femi Oke

Nigerian born international television host and journalist Femi Oke was in the country to participate in the just concluded Social Media Week where she gave the keynote address.

As host of Al Jazeera’s popular programme ‘The Stream’, Femi utilizes new media tools to bring to audiences news and opinion in a traditional form. We spoke with her on this exciting confluence among other hot topics.

Enjoy excerpts from our conversation.

You left CNN years ago but I have noticed you keep getting these CNN questions thrown at you, it must get annoying, no?

Not at all, it’s funny because I was talking with Tumi Makgabo who used to be on CNN the same time as me and we call it the CNN effect because even years after we’ve left, people see us and go “Oh, I have not seen you on CNN recently.” And it shows that people do not always watch CNN all the time, they watch it for big, breaking news stories and even after we left CNN, people still think of us as CNN. When I flew into Lagos, the customs guy told me “Oh, you look like Femi Oke from CNN” and I answer “No, I’m Femi Oke from Al Jazeera” but I think it is great that people remember you from your work, I do not have a problem with that. And I love CNN, it made my life what it is right now. Because of CNN, I travel round the world, I speak and moderate various events for the World Bank and European Union.

CNN’s coverage of African news has often been dismissed as one-sided. Would you agree?

I realised that CNN did not cover a lot of African news. To cover the continent properly, it is important to have the proper context, care and empathy. But I am really grateful for CNN because it has gotten better now. Because they do not have Al Jazeera in my hotel room, I was just now watching CNN and I saw my friends Fionnuala Sweeney, Becky Anderson, these people are my family. I have watched their kids grow up, I attend their graduations and leaving parties so, yes, I am proud of my CNN roots.

We saw you on CNN, then there was a lag before Al Jazeera. Can you fill us in on what was going on in between?

I worked for public radio in New York and I did plan and strategise on how I would attempt my next move. I wanted to have a break between people knowing me as doing the weather and what I really wanted to do which is the news and so that break was important.

How long was this?

5 years.

Were you feeling uncomfortable or dissatisfied with being known just as the weather girl?

Did you see me as just the weather girl?

No, I did not but you were the different kind of weather girl…

I think that my work speaks for itself, the fact that you see me, not only as the weather girl but producing Inside Africa, then filling in as the host of Inside Africa, then hosting Inside Africa, so many other shows that I hosted and anchored, travelling all around the world. I think that the work that I did in CNN speaks for itself.

And now there are additional programmes like African Voices that cover the continent.

It is better now, CNN’s coverage of Africa I admit, but Al Jazeera is way ahead in terms of covering Africa.

Al Jazeera’s The Stream is a unique show. It’s style of new media converging with the traditional format is pretty exciting. What is it like putting it all together?

We have a fantastic team and we work really really hard. The team is very savvy about what is happening online, what hashtags are trending. We spend a lot of time with our online community, tweeting, facebooking backwards and forwards, finding out what people care about. We have producers who produce the show, booking interviewers who talk to all the potential guests, it is an operation, a major thing. Also if you look online, we have web exclusives, interviews online that are separate from our TV show.

We did major tweeting on the Nigerian strike and that was huge like 10,000 people where in that conversation online. In one hour, I got 500 followers and I did not buy a single one of them. Like how is that possible?

It seems like the Nigerian shows are huge?

Yes, they are big. Our biggest audience is in Nigeria.

Do you think that the power of social media, and its ability to drive change is maybe a tad overated?

No, I do not. At the end of the day it is left to us as a community to decide what we want out of this. Are we just going to talk or do things and there is a big difference between somebody who talks online and the one who actually goes out and does something about it. Those two have to connect. People always write letters to the editor complaining about stuff, that is like old media but then you have to take it that next step. But that is not social media’s fault, that is about the people who are involved in it.

There is this big push for regulating what is put out on social media. How do you separate the facts from the junk out there?

We do it the same as we do regular journalism. When you are sent a story you check out the sources, where is it coming from, get back in touch, check out other sources, fact check. Sometimes we see that a story has gone viral online and then we trace it back because the viral version isn’t necessarily the real version so it is the same process.

Are you impressed with the quality of our journalism here in Nigeria?

I am not based in Nigeria so you have to be fair to me here because I am in Washington DC and I am not reading the Nigerian newspapers and I only flew in yesterday. We have to be caeful about speculation. People always chit chat but my point is you should not use that chit chat or tweet or Facebook message as the basis for an interview or article.

Are you always the loudest person in the room?

It depends, when I am with Nigerians no, when I am not with Non-Nigerians, probably.

One comment

  1. NOTICE:
    ANNOUNCEMENT TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC THAT NIGERIA CUSTOMS SERVICE IMPOUNDED CARS AND TRUCKS VEHICLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR AUCTIONS AND SALES 2014.
    CUSTOM OFFICE LINE +2348067515614.
    HERE IS A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY FOR INDIVIDIALS AND CITIZENS OF NIGERIA, NEW TOKUNBO VEHICLES FOR AUCTION, AUCTION DEPARTMENT OF THE NIGERIA CUSTOM SERVICE (NCS) WAREHOUSES AT LAGOS STATE, NIGERIA. THIS VEHICLES WERE IMPOUNDED BY THE NIGERIA CUSTOM SERVICE (NCS) DUE TO ILLEGAL IMPORTATION INTO THE COUNTRY.
    THEY ARE READILY AVAILABLE AT A GIVEN AWAY PRICES..IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN OWNING A VERY SOUND VEHICLE AT A CHEAPER RATE:-
    RATING FROM #200,000 ABOVE. THIS IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR INDIVIDUALS TO GET A SOUND VEHICLE AT A CHEAPER RATE. WAITING DEMAND BY CLEARANCE,INTERESTED BUYERS ARE TO ORDER FOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION AND HAVING THE NECESSARY DOCUMENTATION FOR CLEARANCE. VEHICLE REGISTRATION REQUIREMENT ARE AS FOLLOW:
    1. NATIONAL .I.D.CARD.
    2. LOCAL GOVERNMENT OF ORIGIN.
    3. BIRTH CERTIFICATE.
    4. DRIVING LICENSE.
    5. TWO PHOTOGRAPH PASSPORT.
    CONTACT THE GENERAL MARKETING MANAGER
    NAME: DR .D.A. CHARLES. ON CONTACT NUMBER: +2348067515614.
    EMAIL ADDRESS:[email protected]
    CARS FEATURES BELOW:-
    PRICES OF SOME TOKUNBO TOYOTA VEHICLES:-
    TOYOTA HIGHLANDER =N900,000.
    TOYOTA PRADO =N900,000.
    TOYOTA COROLLA =N620,000.
    TOYOTA CAMRY =FROM =N450,000 -TO- N900,000.
    TOYOTA AVENSIS =FROM =N580,000 =TO =N1.m.
    TOYOTA YARIS =N460,000.
    TOYOTA AVANZA =N410,000.
    TOYOTA RAV4 SUV =N550,000.
    TOYOTA HILUX PICK UP =N970,000.
    TOYOTA DYNA TRUCK =N985,000.
    TOYOTA HIACE BUS =N850,000.
    TOYOTA COASTER BUS 32 SEATERS =N900,000.
    TOYOTA MATRIX =N500,000.
    TOYOTA LAND CRUISER =N900,000.
    TOYOTA SIENNA =N800,000.
    TOYOTA 4RUNNER =N600,000.
    TOYOTA RANGE ROVER =N1.5M.
    TOYOTA AVALON =N520,000.
    PRICES OF SOME PEUGEOT VEHICLES:-
    PEUGEUT C230 =N500,000.
    C300 =N600,000.
    PRICES OF SOME HONDA VEHICLES.
    HONDA CIVIC CARS =N600,000.
    HONDA ACCORD =N400,000.
    HONDA CR-V =N650,000.
    HONDA ODYSSEY =N400,000.
    HONDA PILOT =N750,000.
    PRICES OF SOME NISSAN VEHICLES:-
    NISSAN SUNNY SEDAN =N550,000.
    NISSAN PETROL SUV =N800,000.
    NISSAN PATHFINDER SUV =N700,000.
    NISSAN CIVILIAN 30
    SEATER BUS =N850,000 NISSAN ALTIMAH =N700,000.
    NISSAN MORANO =N600,000.
    NISSAN XTERA =N570,000.
    AUDI Q7 =N350,000.
    AUDI 80 =N400,000.
    GOLF 2,3,4 =N215,000
    TO =N350,000.
    AND LOTS MORE OF VEHICLES.
    MODEL/YEAR OF
    MANUFACTURE……….1999 t0 2014
    INTERIOR, LEATHER AND FABRIC
    AC…..CHILLING FACTORY AC
    WHEEL….GOOD TYRE, ALLOY WHEEL….CALL THE GENERAL MARKETING MANAGER DR
    .D.A. CHARLES ON +2348067515614. FOR MORE ENQUIRIES TO PLACE A DEMAND OF YOUR CHOICE.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail