In spite their popularity among Nigerian readers, online news portals and other social media platforms will only play complementary roles to hard copy newspapers, the Managing Director of a weekly tabloid The Point newspaper, Mrs. Yemi Kolapo, has said.
She spoke to journalists in Lagos recently on the advantage the print media has over digital, stating that the insinuation in some quarters that digital media is a threat to traditional media is not a true reflection of what happens among Nigerian readers.
Kolapo noted that various online platforms and blogs play complementary roles for the print, and that print media still remains the most credible and trusted source of information to readers across board.
"First, let me commend the leadership of the Newspapers Proprietors' Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and other promoters of print media platforms for their efforts to promote professionalism in the industry," she said. "They should not rest on their oars.
Rather, they should buckle up more by encouraging newspaper owners to provide robust online versions of their newspapers that would complement the hard copies. My friend, the publisher of the 100-year-old Gongwer News in Michigan, U.S., once told me that information is key and that it should not be received free.
NPAN still needs to go back to the drawing board to re-assess the issue of free news online with a view to arriving at a win-win position. There is a need for all stakeholders to pursue a common goal that would further make newspaper business profitable.
"Though there are many challenges, the print media is definitely more respected, especially when you do it right. No discerning reader will give regard to a story posted at the corner of the room of an unknown blogger to the one written by a trained journalist and produced through a standard process. Even at that, newspapers must follow the emerging trend and compete on social media.
For instance, top stories in newspapers have begun to attract over a thousand reactions/comments online by respected Nigerians across all fields. Like in our case, The Point has become a super market, where everyone, across all strata, finds something of interest to read. We offer a newspaper in the mold of super market for everyone to key into his or area of interest. If the news is in The Point, then it is authentic."
Kolapo, who was former Special Assistant on Media to a former Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, advised that to excel in newspaper business, stakeholders must encourage investigative journalism that would enhance exclusivity of reports.
While speaking on what has been keeping her organisation going despite challenges in print media, she was quick to say, 'exclusivity,' saying the decision of her team to do things differently by breaking exclusive stories was the magic.
According to her, "From the word go, we set a goal and the goal was to break news and this has not only helped us to grow, it has helped us to command respect in various quarters. We know that the sky is big but we were committed to fly faster and farther, hence the need for originality and exclusivity. Overtime, newspapers like The Guardian, ThisDay, Punch, and BusinessDay, to mention a few, have excelled in the marketplace because of the exclusivity of particular stories, and of course, passion is important to excel in newspaper business."
Kolapo pointed out that despite the economic recession and the fact that many Nigerians had embraced social media as source of information, when The Point was launched in 2016 the decision of the team to do things differently has been the saving grace.
"Agreed, print media is a tough terrain, considering the challenges facing the industry," she offered. "But almost three years after, I still believe my decision to start The Point when I did was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Unlike when people just come in, pump in the money and expect returns immediately, ours was driven by passion and that's why we will always remain in business by the grace of God."
She spoke on the recession that almost crippled the economy and why her team still went ahead to establish the paper, saying the indications had always been there towards the end of former President Jonathan's administration. She noted that recession was inevitable, owing to nose-diving oil prices, adding, "but we knew there were market opportunities, which we thought we could key into and that was what we did."