Indigenous Communication as a discipline offers many different career options. A career in the traditional media environment will provide an expert with specialist knowledge with which he can effectively reach the audience with any particular message through the traditional media. This further means that such practices as advertising, marketing and public relations practitioners could effective utilize the traditional media to reach the targeted audience. Someone who has a career in this area would be consulted for the job, not just as a generalist communicator but a specialist whose mainstay is traditional media practice. These are among other challenges which necessitate the pursuit of career in the traditional media environment. The growing prominence of the traditional media in development communication and other communication campaigns requires that people should start considering exploring and exploiting the career opportunities which abound in the traditional media sector.
The Specific Opportunities
If you want to carve out a career in the traditional media environment you can take up any of the following opportunities.
Traditional Media Consultancy
This consists of running a consultancy firm which speciality would be expert assistance on result-oriented application of traditional media in any communication campaign. It could be for public relations purposes or even for the purpose rural advertising. Any project that specifically targets rural or grass root audience would require this kind of consultancy firm to come up with strategic blueprint on how to achieve this purpose through the traditional media. The consultancy firm could also be engaged in research word and studies on how to develop the traditional media environment.
Traditional Media Research
Any person wishing to grow a career in the traditional media sector should have a working knowledge of traditional media research. It is the application of research techniques, strategies or procedures in providing answers to perplexing questions that border on traditional media environment. Such a person could be consulted or simply required to always carry out studies on how to develop the traditional media environment, or audience-related studies with regard to the traditional media, including traditional media impact analysis. Research is an essential tool for the development of and furtherance of a career in the area.
Traditional Media Management
This simply entails an understanding of how to organize, direct, monitor control and co-ordinate material and human resources required to effectively utilize and distinct group or combine various groups of traditional media in. communication campaign. Knowing the various traditional media in existence may not be enough: knowledge of how to manage or coordinate the people that would use them is necessary and requires intense study.
Study of message content meaning and application
This requires an in-depth study of the message passed across by specific traditional media. For instance, aerophones, idiophones and membranophones make sounds differently and these various sounds have specific meanings, depending on how the handler manipulates the instruments.
Traditional media campaign planning, execution and evaluation
This has been taken care of in the discussion on traditional media consultancy. This is because a traditional media consultancy outfit could undertake this job. However, it entails knowledge of the factors to be considered in traditional media selection and how to evaluate the impact of messages passed through the adopted traditional media. It is an area that requires serious study for a successful career in the traditional media environment, it calls for knowledge of which traditional medium or media should be selected for specific communication campaigns depending on the target audience and nature of campaign, among other factors.
Trado-Tronic Media Management Consultancy
This refers to understanding the fusion between the indigenous communication channels and electronic media, including the new media. Trado-tronic media refer to integration of the traditional and electronic media in message sharing and dissemination. For instance, Town union meetings are done online and offline. This technique includes use of radio and television programmes by opinion leaders and titled men in information dissemination. You could focus on how to meaningfully combine the traditional channels of communication and such other media as radio, television, the social media and other internet platforms, in achieving communication objectives.
These are among the specific areas that should be noted by the student or graduate wishing to have a successful career in the traditional media environment. Traditional communication is a good career choice and worth attempting in view of the importance of traditional media in contemporary Nigerian and indeed, African societies as a whole.
A lot of studies have been carried out to ascertain the effectiveness of the traditional media in reaching the grassroots or ruralites. As has been pointed out, these studies have variously attested to the fact that traditional media are not just effective but indispensable if any meaningful development programme is to be carried out at any level of government.
However, discussions on the need for career growth in traditional media sector are relatively non-existent. This is reflective of the fact that the importance of traditional media in any society is yet to be fully appreciated. Other sub-areas or fields in mass communication are still “dwarfing” traditional media studies, following which relatively negligible attention is given to the area in the curriculum of mass communication departments of higher institutions. This has made students think that traditional media deserve only academic attention and not practical consideration to the extent of considering it as a career choice.
The quest to encourage career prospecting in traditional media environment must start with communication departments in institutions of higher learning. Teachings on traditional media which are often done only in the first year or hundred levels should be reviewed and included in advanced classes for purposes of specialization (where this arrangement does not exist already). Traditional media lectures should go beyond only mentioning of gongs, flutes and so on but also should include other technicalities to be applied on how one can really earn a living in this area. Such specialized areas as ethics of traditional media, existing media laws that affect traditional media, the possibility of having traditional media establishments, among others, should constitute challenges for communication scholars. This is to say that these specialized areas should be considered, worked on and practicalized with a view to shaping the traditional media studies in an area that truly deserves exploration for career opportunities.
(This article was first published in Nwabueze, Chinenye. (2005). Career Opportunities in Traditional Communication. In I. E. Nwosu, J. Aliede, & I. Nsude (eds). Mass Communication: One Course, Many Professions. Enugu: African Council for Communication Education (ACCE), Enugu Chapter. Pp. 65 – 74).