The Graphic: Reach­ing for gi­ant strides amidst chal­lenges

Sunday Trust - - MEDIA -

Kogi State Gov­ern­ment is mak­ing ef­forts to re­po­si­tion for bet­ter spread and ac­cept­abil­ity.

From Itodo Daniel Sule, Lokoja

KThe Graphic ogi State–owned news­pa­per out­fit, The Graphic, de­buted in Au­gust 1992 to pri­mar­ily bridge the in­for­ma­tion gap be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the peo­ple. It is one of the legacy projects of the late Prince Abubakar Audu, the first civil­ian gov­er­nor of the state.

In the last 25 years, the news­pa­per has strived to re­main afloat as a weekly pub­li­ca­tion amidst daunt­ing chal­lenges of poor work­ing en­vi­ron­ment, in­ad­e­quate work­ing tools, paucity of staff/funds and lack of staff mo­ti­va­tion, amongst oth­ers.

The news­pa­per hap­pens to be one of the few sur­viv­ing state-owned news­pa­pers in the coun­try to­day.

Suc­ces­sive man­agers of the news­pa­per, from in­cep­tion have no doubt done their best in en­sur­ing the sur­vival of the pub­li­ca­tion at a time when most gov­ern­ment-owned news­pa­pers had suf­fered mor­tal­i­ties.

How­ever, the emer­gence of a new man­age­ment for the news­pa­per in May 2016, headed by the Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Mr Dayo Thomas seems to have fur­ther im­proved the for­tunes of the pa­per in terms of con­tents and aes­thet­ics.

Mr Thomas, who had han­dled var­i­ous ed­i­to­rial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in not less than five na­tional dailies, amongst them Punch and Thisday, has been able to bring to bear, his wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence.

Speak­ing to Daily Trust on Sun­day, Mr Thomas said he was sad with the sit­u­a­tion he met at the out­fit.

He how­ever at­trib­uted the trans­for­ma­tion recorded within the short pe­riod to God, co­op­er­a­tion from its team of work­ers and other rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers.

“In all my en­deav­ours, it has been God. The medium I in­her­ited with­out any at­tempt to be im­mod­est, was a sad one. Or­di­nar­ily, when you en­ter a me­dia house, you should have an ex­pec­ta­tion. If you see a mon­key that can­not climb a tree, you can­not call it a mon­key.

“It is not the name that you call a thing that mat­ters; but the ca­pac­ity to per­form the func­tion for which it is meant. There are some fea­tures you must see.

“There are some fea­tures you must find in a me­dia house be­fore you can re­ally call it a me­dia house. When I came in, those things were not there and we needed to re­sort to God for divine in­spi­ra­tion.”

He said the man­age­ment team em­barked on an in­for­ma­tion needs as­sess­ment of the peo­ple to en­sure their buy-in.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the news­pa­per was repack­aged in such a way that it re­flects the in­ter­ests and needs of the peo­ple by al­low­ing them to have their say in the pub­li­ca­tions.

“There is a dif­fer­ence be­tween when you talk and when you make sense. And we re­alise that as a me­dia house, we needed to do in­ter­est ar­tic­u­la­tion and in­ter­est ag­gre­ga­tion of the peo­ple.

“Our pri­mary man­date is to bridge ef­fi­ciently the com­mu­ni­ca­tion gap be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the peo­ple be­cause there can never be any sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment un­less you do a needs as­sess­ment.

“One of the first things we did was to en­sure that we have a pa­per that is peo­ple­cen­tred and peo­ple-fo­cused.

“Gov­er­nance is about the peo­ple; you must re­port the peo­ple and the peo­ple must see them­selves in the pa­per. If you want them to bring out their money to buy your news­pa­per, you must be sure that you are adding value to them and that their voices are heard,” he said.

The man­ag­ing di­rec­tor said that the man­age­ment took fur­ther steps to re­brand the pa­per by work­ing on its aes­thet­ics, adding that “news is like food and the plate with which you serve your food is very im­por­tant.

“We re­branded the pa­per to make it more at­trac­tive and also give it a unique iden­tity. We did not want it to be a pa­per that is just seen any­how.

“The con­tent is also very im­por­tant be­cause the aes­thetic will at­tract the cus­tomer but it is the con­tent that will keep the cus­tomer,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the im­prove­ment brought to bear on the aes­thet­ics and con­tents had led to an in­creased pa­tron­age and de­mands from the peo­ple.

Thomas dis­closed that in an ef­fort to en­sure that the weekly pub­li­ca­tion re­mains rel­e­vant in the face of modern trends in jour­nal­ism cou­pled with the chal­lenge posed by the so­cial me­dia, the man­age­ment launched an on­line ver­sion of the pa­per to keep its reader in­formed as the news breaks.

“Ev­ery sec­ond, there is news break­ing. How then can you be re­port­ing for peo­ple that are ahead of you? You can’t even af­ford to wait for an hour.

“The peo­ple we are re­port­ing to have an un­fet­tered ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion be­cause of the ad­vent of the so­cial me­dia... We needed to be re­al­is­tic and ap­praised our mode of op­er­a­tion,” he said.

Some of the staff of the or­ga­ni­za­tion

Mr Dayo Thomas, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor The Graphic,

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