As a journalist I worked in three media organizations. It is difficult to survive as a Nigerian journalist. It is equally difficult for media owners.
Just seen the Leadership newspaper issue and I feel for the staff. I know what it means to work and not earn. I did that at THISDAY for 2 years. Delayed salaries, poor remuneration, casualization and even ‘work-for-free’ culture have sadly become a norm in the media industry in Nigeria.
The employers believe workers should take a walk if they can’t take it. But we all know there are no jobs anywhere! So most journalists have learned to have side hustles. Those who get a chance to port grab it with all their might. The newsroom’s loss is the gain of corporate communications. Some of our brightest journalists are now big boys in banks, oil companies and agencies.
Most moved abroad.
It’s as if there’s a deliberate effort to compromise our media, education and medical systems. We’re seeing the implication.
Having said that! I am now also a media owner. IT IS TOUGH!
NET will be five years in a few months. Advertisers, newspaper agents and vendors will show you pepper. If I knew in 2010 what I know now about getting adverts, the evil payment circle and distribution mafia, I’d never have published a newspaper.
It’s impossible to get your money from the agencies. It’s impossible to get money from agents and vendors. You’re convinced everyone wants your paper to die. The media industry, like most other sectors here, is in a deep mess.
We’re not in control of how our products get to the consumers. We cannot attract the right talent. We are at the mercy of those we should cover.
How can any ‘serious’ Nigerian newspaper cover banking, politics, oil &gas or telecommunication without ‘fear or favour’?
If those sectors pull adverts, the entire industry will collapse. This old model obviously is not working. Only Punch, in my opinion is immune for now.
Forget the figures you hear, we’re in deep shit. Pardon my French.
The way forward?
We need a new business model. This is 2014. Any media owner that wants to survive must embrace new ideas. Our journalists too need to upgrade. But NPAN and other bodies need to be serious about building a system that works. Both for print and digital media. Some need to close their presses, forget newsprint and focus on digital. No need for ego.
I have a message to the workers being owed. In fact to all workers currently unhappy with work conditions. Begin to plan your future.
I hated my salary (N10,600). I thought I deserved better. Then I had to cope with 2 years of no pay at THISDAY.
I was never angry at the system. I didn’t play the victim. I just wanted to make my life better and worked as if I earned a million.
I was never a brown envelope journalist, so the situation forced me to think out of the box.
So let’s focus less on our employers and the issues.
What is the solution?
What’s the way forward?
Most Media businesses may not be making profit. But the owners are fine. Most of them are sorted. Plan your future. Only fear can stop you.