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At LCCI forum, experts canvass rethink of media funding model

By Sunday Aikulola
29 March 2022   |   3:55 am
Participants at the maiden Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry/Media stakeholders’ forum have stressed need to rethink current funding model of media to effectively hold public office holders accountable.

Olawale-Cole

Participants at the maiden Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry/Media stakeholders’ forum have stressed need to rethink current funding model of media to effectively hold public office holders accountable.

With the theme, “Economic Stability & Security as Tools for National Development: The Media Perspective,” they also argued that media have critical role to play in revamping the economy and bridging security gaps.

In his keynote speech, Founder & Chairman, Proshare, Mr. Olufemi Awoyemi, observed that there is no sustainable business model for the Nigerian media industry.

He asked: “How can an industry without a discernable and sustainable business model hold power to account? How does it sustain itself financially, observe governance ethos with all-encompassing boards (not just editorial decisions), adopt technological innovations, develop human capital, protect the welfare of journalists, and advance the growth of the practice through standard setting?”

He queried thus; that “how does the media address the case of giving out awards backed by financial benefits to public officials it seeks to hold accountable, sometimes, mid-way into their tenures?”

While saying that a society is blessed with the kind of media it has, Awoyemi pointed out that in a case where people are hungry and trying to survive, it is difficult to create excellence.

According to him, “what will happen is that a few people thinking how to survive will have to get news for themselves. The press release syndrome must also stop.”

Speaking further, he said, the media concentrates too much on politics than governance.

He noted: “We cover politics, but we don’t cover governance. Governance is what the watchdog role is all about. There is too much emphasis on political parties but we are not interrogating the process. Nobody is interrogating compliance or recruitment criteria. Aside from holding people to political debates, what about framing the conversations?

Business Editor, The Guardian, Dr. Femi Adekoya, observed that the media is not isolated from the society and they are expected to be socially responsible.

He said the media also operate as business entities. He, however asked, “are Nigerians ready to pay for good journalism? Until we remodel business of journalism towards subscription where citizens pay, it is going to be tough.”

He also expressed concern over the harsh terrain media industry operates in the country. He said: If “you write anything that does not make the government happy, you are either sanctioned or fined. When journalists do investigative work, security agencies go after them instead of the culprits. There are lots of disincentives for journalists.”

The Programme Manager, Nigeria Info F.M, Sheriff Quadry, said if you have a weak economy, you cannot have a strong media sector. He argued that “quality media business is not cheap, though it is not an excuse for the media to be a sell-out. It’s expensive to run a media house. If care is not taken, media houses will be shutting down.”

He said the atmosphere in which the media operate is very hostile. He asked: “Who defends the media?” He also admitted that the media industry is doing the best it could do, but observed, “we have people with military mentality in agbada.”

Relieving his experience, he said, “I interviewed the late Obadiah Mailafia and my station was under fire. I almost lost my job, simply because the man revealed some certain bitter truth. In some other climes, what he said would have been investigated. Instead, they came after the media. Our station in Kano was shut down.”

For the Deputy Editor, Business Day, Lolade Akinmurele, the media house was tried to build a subscription model, where revenue could sustain the business with less reliance on advert. However, he disclosed that it has not been an easy ride because “we are trying to convince people to part with money to pay for news in a country that is regarded as the poverty capital of the world, where half of the population are living below $190 a day.”

He added that capacity building is important, insisting that there is the need for in-depth analysis of key issues. Making reference to the debt issue, he suggested that all media houses, both print and electronic, could dedicate a day to discuss only debt so that the attention of the government could be drawn to it.

He said: “I can’t understand how the debt grew from about N15trilliion in 2014 to N40 trillion this year and you cannot really see what we have achieved with the debt.”

On Air Personality with Star F.M, Mofe Oyatogun said media practitioners should know that the reason “we are journalists is to be the voice of the voiceless and we must put their plight at the nexus of our reportage.”

She added that there could never be security if the economy does not sustain small businesses.

Co-founder, Social Media Week, Lagos, Obi Asika said the media, for too long, had relied on subventions from the government and politicians.

He stressed the need for the media to focus on value creation.

According to Asika, what brings people to you is the value of what you are doing.

Pointing out that the media industry is reflective of the society and can also influence the society, he stressed the need to tell the Nigerian stories to learn from the past, honour the present and move forward.

He advised: “The media should be the story teller and it must be intentional. If we want to inspire our people and move the nation forward, it is the manner of our communication that would enable people to be inspired. If you spend time telling the negatives, all you will get is negatives.”

Concerning port reforms, the speakers stressed the need to fix and connect infrastructures. They also advocated deployment of latest technologies.

In his opening remarks, President LCCI, Dr. Michael Olawale-Cole, stated that the theme underscored the roles of media, as the fourth estate of the realm, in shaping and designing the national economic agenda for successful implementation. He said at no better time than now do “we need all stakeholders to join in the national economic discourse to set Nigeria on the path of growth.”

Represented by LCCI Vice President, Prince Abimbola Olashore, he added that the conversation was expected to focus on key dimensions and parameters of national development; explore in-sectoral linkages, opportunities to drive industrialisation of the economy, unlock human capital potential, harness science, technology and social security through provision of various facilities to meet the needs and aspirations of disadvantaged, deprived and poorest of the poor segments of the population and proffer how stable and uninterrupted power supply could be provided.