How I Won Investigative Reporter Of The Year At NMMA – Samson Folarin
Popular Metro reporter with Punch Newspapers, Mr Samson Folarin has disclosed how he was awarded the prestigious Investigative Reporter of the Year award at the Nigeria Media Merit Awards (NMMA).
Folarin, an alumnus of the Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, took to his Facebook page on Friday to make the disclosure.
In the post titled, “NMMA night and the wrong diagnosis report”, the crack reporter revealed the harassment he was subjected to while pursuing the story of a young fresh graduate that died following alleged misdiagnosis.
The report fetched him the coveted prize.
Read post below:
After I won the DAME award, I had hoped for a nomination for NMMA. But it did not come. As colleagues shared the news of receiving nomination notifications in their email, I was hopeful.
A few days afterwards, while still on the bed, I got an email, marked NMMA. I shouted in excitement without even bothering to open it.
My nomination? Investigative Reporter of the Year. That is a hard category anytime any day. I don’t come near the big investigative reporters in the industry, even in PUNCH. The report that got me the nomination was on an alleged wrong diagnosis that led to the death of a young fresh graduate. It was supposed to be the usual hospital-family newspaper scuffle over a death. I had done reports like that in the past. But some things happened that changed the narrative.
After speaking with the family members of the deceased, I called the LASUTH CMD, Prof Wale Oke, to react to the allegation that the boy died in his hospital. The man begged me not to rush to press, that I should meet him at the hospital the following day. I was surprised when I got there and met a panel of medical consultants and doctors who handled the case. They all analysed the patient’s file and what role they played. I was happy with the quality of their contributions.
But that was not the real thing. The patient had first been treated at a family hospital where he was born, before he was transferred to LASUTH. In fact, his family believed the private hospital started the misdiagnosis. He had complained of fever and pronto, it became aggravated as he was pumped with all kinds of injections.
After several failed attempts to speak to the private hospital’s representatives on the telephone, I went there, determined to get a reaction. The medical director, who was the son of the owner of the hospital, had grudgingly invited me. I cannot capture with words the harassment I faced at the facility. Hours after I left the hospital, I was still in shock. I was so visibly shaken that my production editor knew something was wrong with me. I had to do a reporter’s diary, as PUNCH sent a litigation letter to the medical centre. As I type this, I still recall the pain I felt. It was that bad.
But I did not stop reporting on the case, calling out the private hospital and putting LASUTH on its toes. LASUTH invited me more times for discussions because the state Ministry of Health became involved. I must thank all the medical experts who I emailed the patient’s case note, including my brother, Dr Victor Chukwu, who is based in the US with his family, and my wife’s friend, Dr Peace Adebiyi There were others.
I must thank my wife, Esther Sopeju Folarin, for the love and support throughout the period; former Metro Editor, Mr Sesan, for assigning me to do the report. I remember it started with a phone call and a text message. My Editor, Ayankola, who gave me a commendation letter for the report. And my oga at the top, Mr Adeyeye, for believing in me.
I think the lesson for me is that good stories take time and patience. This is not always easy when you have deadlines to meet. We are not done yet; we have just begun. Greater glory ahead.
For my friends, you need to keep doing your best and let God handle the rest. Not appreciated? It’s a test. It is not over until you manifest!
The Award Plaque: