Osoba, Owens-Ibie extol The Flagship, offer suggestions for improvement
“The philosophy behind the establishment of The Guardian is to produce high quality newspaper with flair for intellectualism. When the company was starting, there was a well-articulated house style, which embraced quality presentation of stories through an elevated writing. The Guardian has done well to keep to that philosophy, especially by not joining the tabloid kind of sensationalism. I praise the founding fathers, leaders and staff of the newspaper who kept the image of The Guardian intact as well as grew the readership.”
With these words, Chief Segun Osoba felicitated with The Guardian having clocked 33 years last Monday.
The former Governor of Ogun State insisted that newspaper industry would continue to exist. He, however, charged managers to brace up for stiff competition.
“There would always be newspapers and there would always be competition as long as there is life.”
The future, he predicted, “lies in embracing wholeheartedly, the Internet and The Guardian must go digital.” He cautioned the print media owners not to abandon the Internet for non-professionals. “Newspapers all over the world should get ready to be distributed free. They have to survive on advertisement. Nobody, in future, who would have read newspapers on the Internet would put money to buy the hard copy, although printed version would still be necessary because other source of information such as write up, entertainment, columnists, writers would still make newspapers attractive, but to grow readership and expand circulation, the products have to be distributed free, thereby wooing the advertisers for patronage.”
The famed newspaper manager premised the concept of free distribution on the digital revolution dictated by the Internet, especially through the use of social platforms such as email, WhatsApp, twitter and others.
“Just like postal services have more or less become free, with these digital platforms. Since everybody would have access to internet and could read as much as they wish on the internet, that is why they will not be willing to buy the physical paper. But there would still be areas that interest people about the content of a newspaper, they would be willing to read and that is why newspapers have to go free to sustain that interest.”
On his part, Professor Nosa Owens-Ibie, said that The Guardian redefined journalism in a sense when it started, as it became the newspaper to look up to, because of the quality of writing at that time, which was not in comparative beside the team was an excellent blend of the very best Nigeria had to offer at that time.
“Over the years, there had been developments that have tested the resolve of the newspaper to abide by the commitment to conscience nurtured by the truth. Some of those dynamics have had adverse effect on the operations of the paper, even though it has basically remained conservative. The Guardian is still seen as an independent voice in the market place. At some point, it was worrisome that some of the things you could not associate with The Guardian at the outset were happening and that became obvious with some of the errors that became noticeable and stories not properly edited.
“But I have noticed that there is a re-organisation going on and there is a gradual restoration of that quality that the paper was associated with over the years. I think the choice of columnists has translated to something, being able to harness some of those who matter in Nigerian journalism is significant and strategic. That might also add to the readership and followership. There is an attempt to spice the content with varieties, bringing some younger element to complement the older hands.”
The Dean, College of Social and Management Sciences, Caleb University, Imota, Lagos who is also General Secretary, Association of Communication Scholars & Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN) however stated that the challenge is for “The Guardian to restore that aura that defined its beginning, though it is impossible to have that same team back but the truth is that the measure of consistency and examining the details that make the paper unique would over time needs restoration.
“The print media have challenges of readership and relevance and The Guardian may need to properly address that imperative. The fact that the paper has been on for 33 years is something to talk about and an encouragement that the possibilities are huge and the potential is there. I hope that what is evolving can be better.
“As the paper re-strategizes and block those loop holes that have surfaced over the years, the thinkers would ensure the paper regain some of its lost market and add on wider audience. I hope the dream of Guardian TV would be realized and that should be with a lot of preparation to offer something different. So, there is a lot for the paper to rejoice over but complacency is what the paper can’t afford now as it rejoices.