A few weeks back, I got a message from a friend telling me to apply to be an on-site social media reporter for an agri-tourism event that was going to take place in Fiji. I did it just for the sake of it, and after a week or two I got my confirmation email from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) that I have been selected to report on the event. I was in fact being supported by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) to attend and report on the event.
Imagine a 19-year-old first year student who has little knowledge of agriculture, and working with other people who have graduated and are experienced in the field. Thousands of questions crossed my mind. A dash of nervousness as the team suggested a meeting over dinner upon our arrival at the hotel. And these were totally new faces. The first meeting with Ms Nawsheen Hosenally, our social reporting coordinator from CTA had a positive impact on me.
What happened next?
Wondering what exactly was this impact? So the next morning I get to the hotel for the 2-days’ training on the use of digital media for social reporting, and I was surprised with how much confidence I was able to present myself to other social reporters of the team, whom I couldn’t meet over dinner the previous evening. In short, the first thing the 2 days taught me was presenting me with confidence. The fact that I mastered more confidence was not just it, there was more to learn.
Down to the training
One of the most admirable qualities about our coordinator, Ms Hosenally, is the high standards which she has bought to this side of the world. Brought up in the Pacific waters, this is the first time I came across someone who valued time so much.
There were a lot of things which most of us in this part of the world are not too familiar with. For one thing, I had never heard about hootsuite, a social media management tool, whereby you can manage all your different social networks on a single dashboard! Furthermore, we were told about the different sites we can refer to for news tailored to your preference.
What was hard?
All in all, the training was about learning. About tools and how to use them for reporting. What could possibly be so difficult? Trust me when I say this: working on your laptop for close to 9 hours a day is tiring. Sitting in an air-conditioned room, cold as a courtroom in one position with the sun shining bright outside, making us envious of the hotel guests walking to the pool/beach.
Other than that, learning new tips and tricks will certainly make my work as a journalism student a lot easier. Next year, when we have to cover blogs at university, I will no doubt have an advantage over the others. According to me, the most useful trick we learnt was how to ensure that your blog is worth publishing.
Where will these tricks be applied?
First of all, I am planning to apply these tricks on my own blog. As a blogger, and journalism student, aggregation and curation websites such as scoop it and paper.li will make my work so much easier. I don’t really have to go out to look for content. Instead, the content I need will just come to me. Sounds nice right? Of course it does.
Apart from everything I have learnt, and the tricks which will be handy, the best part of it all was the team. It has just been 2 days but I have connected with the team so well, and for me personally, back in my university I still don’t know most of the students in my class though I will be seeing them again next semester.
At no one point did anybody make me feel like I am dumb in this field or that my opinions are not valued. Usually when someone as young and inexperienced as me is thrown at the deep end of the pool, the people who can stay afloat tend to ignore you, or so I have always been told by the alumni.
Tired eyes, typing lazily, but still working to get you the live updates of #PacAgriTo. This is how the Social Media Reporters work when on a mission. Be sure to stay tuned!
Blogpost by Avneel Abhishay, Social Reporter for the Pacific Community AgriTourism Week 2015.