Seven decades of robust journalism
History was again made in the nation’s media landscape, in Lagos, last week, when its oldest surviving newspaper brand, the Nigerian Tribune, unveiled its new-look, as part of activities marking the Newspaper’s seven decades of robust journalism in Nigeria.
Besides the overwhelming and very impressive attendance, which saw the facilities of the Banquet Hall of the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, in Ikeja, venue of the event, stretched to its limit, the significance of the day, for many, especially critical stakeholders in the nation’s media industry, was the decision of the first generation media outfit to refresh its offerings, a way of using its past to connect with the present.
Not a few believe that with last week’s decision to wear a new look, the Newspaper was only towing the path of any serious brand, desirous of etching its memory in the minds of its consumers and permanently staying in their consciousness.
Interestingly, the Chairman of the African Newspapers of Nigeria (ANN) Plc, Dr (Mrs) Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu, echoed this much.
Why we refreshed
Describing the re-branding exercise as part of activities marking the 70th anniversary of the Newspaper, Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu believes such innovation has become imperative, to make the publication remain relevant in the topsy-turvy terrain of the nation’s media industry.
Quoting Willard Mitt Romney, an American businessman and politician, Dr. Dosunmu argued that the re-brand represented one of the Newspaper’s strategies to renew, reinvent and refresh itself in the minds of the readers and renew its commitment to them.
According to her, the decision to change the mast head back to red, a high visibility colour, is to demonstrate the courage, energy, power and determination, which its founder, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo represented, while alive.
The page layouts of the publication, she added, have been improved upon and made reader-friendlier to further endear itself to its ardent readers, both in the private and public sector.
“You will notice that we have changed the colour of our masthead back to red, a high-visibility colour which, as you know, is associated with, among others, courage, energy, power and determination – attributes that are associated with our founders and which, therefore, remind us of our roots.
“The page layouts have also been improved upon. So, by reverting to symbols of our illustrious past, we use that past to renew the present. We cherish our legacy of courage and determination in the defence of justice, fairness and freedom from oppression and exploitation and we not only renew that legacy and build upon it for the present, but we also use it in preparation for the future,” she stated.
While reassuring the traditional readers of the Newspaper’s commitment to always to improve on its business model, the paper is not veiling its utmost desire to attract the millenials.
One of the ways, she added, the Newspaper hopes to achieve this is by ensuring a strong presence in the online space, especially on the social media, and the introduction of its online Television.
Though around for over seven decades and serves as a representation of those vicissitudes of the past in the media industry, the newspaper brand is projecting into the future.
For instance, besides consolidating its seven decades-old ‘romance’ with its traditional readers, the youths, its custodians argue, remain very key in its ambition to maintain its dominance of the media scape.
“We know that as we move into the future, we can only continue to grow if we keep trying to improve upon our business model. We must retain our traditional readers, but we must also be attractive to potential, future loyalists. I refer to the young ones, the millennials, whose natural habitat is the internet.
“In this regard, we have established a significant presence in all the online social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We have also set up a studio from where our online television programmes will be produced,” Dr. Dosunmu stated.
Dr. Dosunmu also explained that the decision to also tinker and improve on the content of the Newspaper, was informed by the need to have a complete publication, that combines quality form and content, to enable it consolidate on its award-winning record.
“We have also added, over the years and to the delight of our readers, other specialised pages including business, leadership, entrepreneurship, the environment, property, education, health, community and entertainment pages, to name just a few,” she added.
As a breeding ground for quality personnel
Perhaps a strong factor that has kept the brand going remains the array of journalistic and literary ‘greats’, it parades and paraded in the past.
Among those journalistic greats of yore, the Chairman explained were the likes of former governors of Ogun and Oyo States, Chief Bisi Ọnabanjọ and Chief Bola Ige, who were once columnists in the paper.
Justice Adewale Thompson, Dr Tai Șolarin, Chief Wunmi Adegbọnmire and Akọgun Tọla Adeniyi were others who had availed themselves the opportunity of the publication to display their journalistic prowess.
Interestingly, the tradition continues, as seen in the array of present-day columnists that the Nigerian Tribune parades.
As a ‘global’ brand
Perhaps as a way of putting the records straight, the event was another opportunity for the brand custodians to refute the claim, in some quarters, that the publication was set up to take care of local interests.
Dr. Dosunmu believes the newspaper brand has what it takes to be described as a ‘glocal’ brand. In other words, while it takes care of the local interests, the Tribune titles are also primed for the global audience.
According to her, besides having a strong presence in all the six geo-political zones of the country, the publication has its global reach through its website and social media platforms.
“As regards our reach, we are, truly, national, with significant presence in all the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. We also have a global reach through our website and social media platforms,” Dr. Dosunmu stated.
The least we can do, therefore, is to constantly renew and redefine, in order, not only to transform the African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc, but also to become reputable influencers and leaders in the media industry.
The brand’s winning formula
The company’s Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief Mr Edward Dickson, attributed the publication’s staying power to effective use of its human capital, comprising of highly committed staff, to build on the vision of the founder, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
This, he added, was evident in the seamless operation of the company through years of pestilence, drought and mixed harvest.
The EIC further explained that the publication has been able to infuse the media landscape with human capital which it is known for, for years, through the wealth of critical manpower it had trained for Nigeria’s media industry.
70 years of unbroken productivity
For the presidential candidate of the Young People’s Party (YPP), Dr. Kingsley Moghalu, the continued existence of the publication attests to its 70 years of unbroken productivity.
The YPP presidential candidate attributed the exploits of the publication in the nation’s media in the last seven decades, to its consistency, discipline and hard work to survive in the nation’s turbulent political and business terrain.
Not a few would readily agree with this assertion. Interestingly, the brand custodians are unrelenting. For them, the least they can do is to constantly renew and redefine, in order, not only to transform the African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc, but also to become reputable influencers and leaders in the media industry.
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