Re: Readership drop affecting newspapers revenue | Dailytrust

Re: Readership drop affecting newspapers revenue

On page 6 of Daily Trust of Wednesday 10th November 2021, the President of Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and Chairman Daily Trust Newspapers, Malam Kabiru Yusuf, bemoaned the falling readership of newspapers which is affecting their revenues. 

As an apologetic member of the old school subscriber of my favourite daily, l like to share a few thoughts with you Gambo. You and I as secondary school students will prowl the school library reading rooms, devouring the contents of the daily newspapers, especially the interesting news and lively editorials.

You will recall the summoning of a late newspaper guru and elder statesman by the then head of state about the unfavourable coverage of his government. The offending story was the unnecessary prolongation of the civil war through the mysterious disappearance of war ordinances between the ports and land borders and the war front. The late newspaper/elder statesman owned up to the report telling the head of state that their story was based on the same information available to both of them but with different conclusions. Morale? The courage of conviction and protection of information source and not the current term “anonymous sources”.

Secondly, after the civil conflict, the same paper reported on the contract values of some roads and bridges in Lagos, then the country’s capital.

With facts and figures and comparable projects elsewhere, the paper accused the then commissioner of works and housing of treating the country as a federation of Apapa and Ikoyi. The editor then (and thank God for his life) is still very much with us, was arrested and later released, and received a hero’s welcome at his home base. Again, the morale? telling truth to power and holding public office holders to account.

Contrast that with what the contents of newspapers are today. Screaming headlines and a serious disconnect with the main storyline. After the first sentence, the report starts to interrogate the story leaving the reader confused and uninformed.

Thunderous editorials replete with commands, ultimatums, and downright threats. Editorial contents are the studied position of the paper on socio-economic and political issues. These days they are just a summation of events and the inevitable command.

General interest and special feature articles use heavy and confusing language making for very tedious reading.

Straight line and angular cartoons with little humour or message. 

Back page columns full of prejudices, innuendos, and libelous language.

Lastly, I recall a very eventful encounter with a committed newspaper patron. in the early eighties, I was on a Lagos-bound flight with a distinguished gentleman who sat next to me. After take-off and some light conversation, he opened his copy of his daily newspaper and started reading it. He also took his ballpoint pen and was circling words, underlining whole sentences, and even marginal remarks. I politely asked why he was doing that. He said that he was not satisfied with the standard of his regular read for so many years with avoidable mistakes. 

That is a commitment for you. Just like him, I belong to the committed old-school readership of my favourite daily. But with all those nudging contents I may be forced to jump before being pushed. 

Or NPAN may wish to take on the federal and state authorities for plundering and depleting the ranks of the papers through appointments to media advisors and special assistants.

Finally, the President of NPAN should urgently convene a national conference of diminishing number of committed readers like me and listen (take a listen as the current version) to our plight.

Buhari Hassan writes from Kaduna

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