Newspaper proprietors canvass collaboration, lobbying of govt, private sector to survive

Newspaper proprietors canvass collaboration, lobbying of govt, private sector to survive

Newspapers Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) has stressed the need for collaboration among members to survive trying times.

Rising from a two-day retreat in Lagos, aimed at stemming declining fortunes of news-papering in the country, the association canvassed strengthening of the body to meet current realities as well as creating a portal for Nigerian papers.

The event, which attracted prominent industry stakeholders such as, President of NPAN, Malam Kabiru Yusuf; Publisher of Vanguard Newspaper, Mr. Sam Amuka; and a former governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, had ‘The Newspaper: Emerging Trends, Opportunities and Strategies for Survival and Sustainability’ as theme.

The retreat also attracted Chairman/Editor-in-Chief of THISDAY and Arise Groups and former NPAN president, Prince Nduka Obaigbena; Chairman of Punch Nigeria Limited, Mrs. Angela Emuwa, Managing Director of The Guardian Newspapers, Martins Oloja; as well as managing directors and editors of media organisations in the country.

Publisher of BusinessDay Newspaper, Frank Aigbogun, presented the lead paper, while subsequent discussions were led by Founder/CEO of The Journalism Clinic, an integrated marketing specialist, Taiwo Obe, and a former editor of the defunct Next Newspaper and founder, Radio Now, Kadaria Ahmed, who joined via zoom.

The NPAN president, Yusuf, in his opening remarks, raised the need for media owners and practitioners to evolve a new strategy to tackle challenges facing the industry.

According to him, the current and disturbing issues could not be said to be entirely new. He noted that it was good to think of a way forward as concerned bodies have always done, though it is another thing to execute suggestions from the retreat.

He lamented that media organisations are not collaborating to reduce the rising cost of producing a paper. Supporting Yusuf, Osoba made ample references to experience and cited examples that could be borrowed from the past and modulated to suit present day challenges.

The former Ogun governor said industry stakeholders had been agonising about collaboration since 1975, and with current state of things, there was no choice but to embrace collaboration and pooling of human and material resources in collective interest for the survival of newspapers.

While noting that there is need to shun phantom rivalry among media organisations, he called for the pooling of resources together especially in areas of circulation and printing to reduce cost of production.

Reiterating the need for cooperation on all fronts, he said newspaper owners must start to pool reporting and distribution, including photography to save cost and improve revenue, saying, “Like it or not, you all must go online.”

THISDAY publisher, Obaigbena, also called for collaboration among media houses. He said, “collaboration should be the key.” Obaigbena, who contended that collaboration should go beyond printing, queried the imperative of newspaper houses having 36 offices across states of the federation, for example, while suggesting a good use of the Nigeria News Agency (NAN) platform and the need to start making Google pay for stories as against offering grants, which is what obtains in some parts of the world.

The lead discussant, Aigbogun, urged every individual and organisation to go to bed and wake up thinking survival. He said, “it’s important to think diversification,” adding: “There must be something to hand over to our children.”

While advising business owners not to allow opportunities slip by, Aigbogun urged them to take advantage of the current situation and grow their businesses.

Aigbogun said the world was moving and market dynamics were changing too, and as such, approach must change to reflect the current realities.

He held that on some occasions, things might appear tight, but as managers, it is their responsibility to find ways and means to overcome them, stressing, “business models must change through innovations and the structuring of costs.”

BusinessDay publisher argued that newspapers could not be managed differently if existential struggles are not tackled. He said further that, “editors must become business managers of their newspaper organisations to meet new challenges.”

He observed that the, “time for doing things for free is gone. Everything must have some path of revenue. Everything that generates value should generate revenue. Good journalism is valuable; don’t give it away for free.”

At the end of retreat yesterday, the association resolved to that it needed to be reformed. To lead the charge are Mallam Kabiru Yusuf, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, Angela Emuwa, Gbenga Adefaye, Azu Ishiekwene and Aremo Osoba.

On the need to create a portal for Nigerian newspapers, Mr. Martins Oloja, Sina Oladeinde and Tayo Fagbule were given the mandate to ensure this was done promptly.

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