The media (traditional or new) is an advocates source of verifiable information hence tracking information relating to the issues you are working on is important as you want to be aware or keep abreast of the current policy, thinking, actors for and against the issue etc. you are advocating on.
A good advocate will never say government is not doing anything as usually if they are able to track the news s/he will find some level of activity though the intervention may not be adequate.
A few tips for news tracking or activities of government on your issue of advocacy:
- Follow key agencies or actors within your advocacy issue on social media. You will be able to do this effectively if you have done a stakeholder mapping. You can set a notification on your social media such that you know when they have made a post and you can check.
- Be sure to set a time in the day to do your social media tracking. This helps you to be on top of issues in real time.
- Set Google alert to track any news item relating to your issue. Here you will need a Gmail account and be sure to also check on a daily basis or weekly. You can set frequency.
- If the organization you are targeting is a Federal agency then you will have to follow the Minister on social media including the Ministries/Agencies handle. If its State, follow the Governor — not most States have a regularly updated social media page. You will find most information on the Governors handle. You have to follow the legislative arm of government too for information on Bill’s relating to your issue. The Senate President and Speaker including the Deputy Senate President are your sure bet for summary of daily proceedings at the National Assembly. Track this page from 4pm downward though it is updated in near real time. For States you will need to follow the Speakers too.Most States have a functioning website and you can find news relating to your issues there too. Do you know budgets, finance reports and audits of most States are now publicly available online on the State websites? Some also have copies of laws enacted by the State. Check you will see what I am saying.
- For information on government policies, NTA and FRCN are your best bet. Ignore them at your peril. A good advocate understands that NTA and FRCN are ike the media unit of an organization, they are set up to propagate the organisation’s activities. Expecting them to criticize their pay master will be counter productive or accusing them of propaganda. Channels and AIT will help you with alternative information on policies and analysis. Punch, Premium Times and Guardian are my go to for Newspapers (because of fake news and disinformation, I trust their editorial instincts not that they are infallible though). Other news outlets may carry the news without these majors ones so do not ignore any outlet however be sure your sources can be verified and are credible.If you are tracking at the State level, then the State TV and Radio stations. You can have a Google alert for these stations on your issues of focus since most of them will publish the news in text on their websites. Follow their social media handles too.
- Make sure you capture relevant links to the information you have gleaned that is relevant to your issue of focus. If you cant do so immediately repost on your page or save. I have found reposting useful as it means I can both inform my followers and also easily reference the news much later. Note reposting doesn’t mean endorsement.
- The tracked information or news helps you to do the following in your advocacy journey:
- Quickly map actions and opportunities for engagement.
- Retool your advocacy strategy based on new information and what is changing
- Identify new stakeholders especially if a committee is set up to address the issue.
- Understand new thinking on the issue and offer more nuanced evidence based on experience, theory and practice from your work.
- Provide up to date information to all critical stakeholders on trends etc.
- Don’t forget to follow UN agencies working on your focal issue to have a global view of current thinking and latest research to inform your communication and campaigns especially your evidence gathering and recommendations for action.