The Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of The Nation Newspaper, Victor Ifijeh, has condemned the selling of awards by media houses to politicians and corporate bodies.
Mr Ifijeh spoke on Saturday at the 60th birthday celebration and book launch of the Provost of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ), Gbemiga Ogunleye.
At the event, the national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu; Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, and wife of the late business mogul, MKO Abiola, Doyin Abiola; among other dignitaries described Mr Ogunleye as dogged, rugged and versatile.
Speaking on the topic; “Survival of the Print Media in the Digital Age,” Mr Ifijeh painted a gloomy picture of the print journalism globally and in Nigeria in particular, saying the negative impact of the internet on the print genre of journalism has been huge.
“The effect of the Internet on print is more devastating. The digital revolution strikes at the core of the print business. While what basically constitutes journalism hasn’t changed over the centuries, how it is practised is undergoing massive changes brought about by the digital revolution.
“A few years ago, proprietors of evening papers were smiling to the bank. The papers were first with breaking stories. The daily publications were uncomfortable but could not respond. The new media came and displaced the evening publications. Now the new media are in fierce contest with morning publications.
“Also some years back, the soft-sells were the favourites of those who loved to know the latest about celebrities, the high and mighty and the superrich. They had a field day. Then came the bloggers, gossip sites, whose targets are also the high and mighty. Today, many soft sell magazines are haemorrhaging.
“The figures will perhaps tell the story better. To other countries we go, as no verifiable circulation figures are available here. The Audit Bureau of Circulations of newspapers (circulation statistics) released in May 2018 (ABC Ql 2018) showed that total newspaper circulation declined by 4.40 per cent year on year.
“Daily newspapers declined by 15.7 per cent YOY, weekly newspapers by 12.5 per cent, weekend newspapers by 92 per cent, local papers by 6.0 per cent and free newspapers by 1.1 per cent, year on year.
“In Q1 2018, the largest circulating Sunday Times of Johannesburg reported a figure of 260,132 copies. Another major paper, City Press reported a print run of 58,566 copies. In Q1 2014, Sunday Times circulated 405.458 copies. City Press sold 118, 676 copies. Both papers lost 50 per cent of their circulation within two years.”
As a solution, therefore, Mr Ifijeh advised media managers to be creative and innovative, suggesting multiple streams of income as practised by the Daily Times of old.
“To those organising awards for politicians as alternative sources of revenue, we have told them it is rubbish and not sustainable,” he said.
He said rather than boosting the sales and revenues of the media houses, organising awards rubbishes their image and subsequently limits their chances of survival in the face of the biting economy.
The editor added that “Print media managers must learn to collaborate especially in the area of circulation, and we can also look at other suggestions including merger and acquisition.”
“Special publications do not need to target advertisers but can be done in partnership with experts in the universities or consulting agencies.”
While presenting the book, which is titled; “The Editor’s Front Row Views,” Mr Tinubu praised Mr Ogunleye for being daring and upright, saying there are few journalists who practised that long in the profession without blemish.
Represented by his former deputy, Olufemi Pedro, Mr Tinubu challenged the new generation of journalists to be daring and fearless, saying the profession is not for those seeking to be rich overnight.
On his part, Mr Ambode, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Fola Adeyemi, commended Mr Ogunleye for being firm and disciplined.
The former Managing Director of the rested Concord Newspapers, Doyin Abiola, also lent her voice to the need to rescue the print media from collapse.
The Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of Vanguard Newspaper, Gbenga Adefaye, read part of a chapter in the 367-page book.
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