Written press: beyond FG’s promised intervention


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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 have deplored: “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 businesses have had to cut back on newspaper ad 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 ”, underlines Abati, in a recent post from THISDAY.

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, “… tabloid journalists earn 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.

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 in order for advertising money to keep flowing, 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 the culture of press conferences and press releases, public relations professionals in these regions have a perfect command of the language of envelopes…. “

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, the Press Gazette recently reported: “Newspaper publishers have laid off staff, cut wages and suspended print titles to deal with the collapse in advertising revenues and the sale of print caused 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 experienced layoffs… ”

But the good news from advanced economies is that print media are now enjoying significant success in their subscription model. Government, individuals and businesses are equally clearly committed to supporting 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, has 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, is also calling 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 provide advertisers with new and unique ways to derive significant value from their media investments.

Sunday Odiaka, a media practitioner, wrote from Lagos

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