COVID-19, print media and survival strategy | The Guardian Nigeria News

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There is growing concern about the future of print media in Nigeria. Growing concerns are also garbage claiming that business losses in the sector are largely due to the global pandemic. Victor Ifijeh, a seasoned journalist, would deplore: “To say that the print is seriously questioned is an understatement. To say it is in decline is an understatement. In the words of one commentator, the print media are slowly dying. For Bayo Onanuga, another industry veteran, the emergence of digital media has disrupted and dramatically reduced the value of print editions. “Globally, print newspapers are becoming anachronistic and with the way technology is driving the industry, many journalists will soon be out of work if they do not quickly adapt to the phenomenally changing environment,” said recently declared Onanuga.

Seasoned columnist Reuben Abati attributed the challenges of print media survival to declining advertising and readership. “With bad economic times, many companies have had to cut back on newspaper advertising spending and rationalize their options in terms of reach and impact. Former government departments and officials who bought newspapers had to cut their budgets for this purpose. The circulation figures have therefore fallen, ”said Abati, in a recent ThisDay post.

As experts have predicted, many practitioners in the print publishing space in Nigeria have lost or are on the verge of losing their jobs, mostly through no fault of their own. According to Adekunle Samuel Ayeni, CEO of BHM Group, “… the tabloid reporter earns less than $ 100 a month, most newspapers owe up to six months salary and TV stations pay tokens for salaries. .. “Femi Soneye, editor, Persecondnews, also reportedly noted that” the precarious state of the economy has caused the loss of their jobs to thousands of journalists due to the permanent closure of their organizations, while d ‘others have to pay one or two years’ salary. A recent online report further points out: “As we speak, industry and practitioners are facing a different kind of torture. This time, not by any political office holder, but by a looming recession that has befallen the industry…. “

Sadly, some print media owners and practitioners in Nigeria, perhaps to stay afloat, are accused of engaging in unethical practices, including curtailing due diligence procedures and setting unrealistic revenue targets. for their marketing teams. “But for the advertising dollars to continue to flow, some media have had to develop political affiliations and links with businesses and other interest groups. This guarantees a regular flow of income but at the expense of editorial independence, ”notes a report, recently published in techcabal. Ayeni, quoted above, agrees: “The media scene is a mess and the public relations industry in Nigeria is benefiting. Driven by a press conference and press release culture, PR professionals in these regions have mastered the language of envelopes. For decades, they have colluded with poorly paid journalists and struggling publishers to fill newspapers and magazines with promotional content that hardly attracts readers’ interest.

The increase in job losses is clearly a global phenomenon, but the challenges, in advanced economies, are largely attributed to the recent outbreak of Covid-19. In the UK, Press Gazette recently reported: “Newspaper publishers have put staff on leave, cut wages and suspended print titles to deal with the collapse in advertising and print sales revenues. by the pandemic. A report, quoted in the Pew Research Center, also says in part: “Layoffs continue to hit American newspapers. About a quarter (27%) of newspapers with an average Sunday circulation of 50,000 or more have experienced layoffs… ”

But the good news from advanced economies is that print media are now enjoying significant success in their subscription model. There is an equally clear commitment from government, individuals and businesses to support some of the platforms. In the United States, Rick Edmonds, media business analyst, notes in Poynter: “After years of hesitation as to whether journalism deserves support, community foundations are starting to partner with large national organizations like the Knight. Foundation and Lanfest with a grant to strengthen coverage. For-profit newspapers are among the beneficiaries. Edmonds also recalls that The Stranger, a Seattle weekly, received donations, ranging from $ 3 to $ 10,000, after an urgent appeal to the public to keep its print edition alive. The Investigative Journalism Fund, Fundacion Gabo and the Facebook Journalism Project are said to be some of the opportunities created by legal entities to help alleviate financial pressures on media organizations and practitioners.

The Nigerian government is also proposing to save the print media sector. However, the proposed move could be described as a beacon of hope. Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, is said to have assured: “I have been in contact with the newspaper management to find a solution to the ailing economy of newspapers and the entire newspaper industry. media. Mohammed also maintains: “As soon as we have the terms of reference, we will announce the members and the terms of reference. The management of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, in recent tweets, also called on banks operating in the country to provide loans to the media to help them avoid the wave of job losses already recorded among journalists.

Meanwhile, critical times are clearly far from over. It cannot therefore be overemphasized that the times demand original thinking on the part of print media owners and practitioners in Nigeria. Consumers of printed content remain sovereign. There must be constant effort to follow and perfectly meet their preferences. Operators must also continue to seek out and offer advertisers new and innovative ways to derive significant value from their media investments.

Advertisers, on the other hand, shouldn’t worry about attracting customers while reducing costs. This is actually the perfect time for them to maintain their long-standing and comfortable relationship with the print media. Advertisers must also provide irresistible bait that will compel readers to read the print editions and stick to their branded offerings.

• Sunday Odiaka, a media practitioner, lives in Lagos


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