The Graphic: Reaching for giant strides amidst challenges
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,
New look The Graphic