- WE ARE JUST PUBLISHERS
- WE ARE NON-ALIGNED
- GREAT JOURNALISTS MAKE GREAT NEWSPAPERS
- WE JUST NEED GREAT MARKETERS
Are you looking for the easiest way to kill your newspaper? Thousands of newspapers have graced the news-stand but very few have survived. Many titles are being planned today and many will kiss the dust faster than they realize. Why, there are myths that have surrounded newspaper publishing for a long time that are still there.
Experience has shown that there are two basic types or groups of publishers that Nigeria has had. These are: the investor publishers and the writer publisher. The former is composed of the rich politician, industrialist or power monger who wants the influence that publishing brings. The later is composed of journalists or writers whose joy is the pen. I will not be discussing the government owned publications here because the issues affected these are slightly different from the focus of this piece and will be discussed in another write up. In the former category, we have the The Guardian, The Punch, Compass, Tribune etc. the later group consist publications such as The Newswatch, The News, PM News and The Vanguard.
The implication of the above is that the ownership tends to affect the kind of errors found in each category.
THE NON-ALIGNED NEWSPAPER?
Is there any non-aligned publication? Perish the thought. There are no nonaligned newspapers on the top deck. If there were, they are the bunch feasting the pamper worms at the bottom rung or dying off from circulation. So why is it so important to be top-deck? Why is it so important to grab the headlines in the mind of the readers?
Simple! The readers themselves are all aligned. They are looking for newspapers that are like them. Papers that assure them that their perspectives are not worthless or unnecessary. That’s why being an aligned newspaper is not an option; it is the very essence of publishing. Check out the world’s most successful newspapers: they have one thing in common: an over-riding perspective, a slant to life and a modus vivendi. If you’re publishing and struggling to get readers, it might be because you have no over-riding perspective that you’re pursuing. If you’re about to start publishing, consider whether you have found your over-riding perspective yet. Consider that we are all humans, having two hands also have eyes, ears, legs in pairs. They also have a nose, mouth, neck and so on; yet, we are all so unalike. Our behavior is a reflection of who we are. It is a reflection of our perspective. We are disproportionately slanted towards one attribute or another: loving, hate, tolerant or intolerant, focused or confused etc. Whether we are going to succeed in life or not is not a matter of rightness or wrongness as it is a matter of focus and concentration of our energies.
The successful newspaper should:
i. Choose a perspective that is top-value to it. It is the philosophy by which it is willing to live or to die. The most successful in this regard is the Nigerian Guardian whose tagline is: “conscience nurtured by truth”. The Guardian went through travails that showed that it was willing to swim or sink with its dream reflected in its vision. Although other papers and magazines suffered the same fate as the Guardian, none is richer for their travail than the Guardian. Their tagline ensured that.
ii. Choose an identity that suits its public persona. Like every human being, organisations have a personality. In the case of the paper, it is an organism created by humans for its purpose. It therefore needs a public persona which helps to identify it in the public. You need to choose a persona. Choosing a public persona is the subject of another write up.
iii. Choose to train staff according to its over-riding perspective.
iv. Act in accordance with its over-riding perspective in content, coverage and social responsibility, and
v. Adorn itself accordingly.