It is time for the media to know that broadcasting is no longer a business but a selfless service to mankind; instead of waiting for advertisers, sponsored programmes or brown envelopes to generate revenue, the media should invest in the production of essential commodities or the establishment of profit driven companies or agencies in their names.
It is no longer news that the world has transformed into a global village where every business, transaction or communication can be easily accessed through Information Communications Technology. Prior to this age, various companies, establishments and media utilised the analogue system in carrying out their activities. Then, people had to travel long distances to visit a bank in order to do one financial transaction or the other. The electronic broadcast and print media were most popular in that era. Media houses made their income from advertisers, government agencies, companies or individuals that needed their policies or programmes broadcasted.
Nowadays, the Internet has taken over every sphere of man’s life and activities on this planet; and instead of trekking or driving to the bank to process one or more transactions, one can easily and comfortably sit in the comfort of his or her room and do such through the Internet. Also, it is no longer necessary to approach newspaper vendors to buy a printed version of a news because such news are always online. In fact, news now first appears online before it is printed.
Moreover, government agencies, companies, establishments and private individuals seldom patronise the media for their policies and programmes to be broadcasted nowadays. Many, if not all, of them now have websites and social media accounts like Facebook through which they can broadcast anything they want to. The most interesting part of it is that online platforms like Facebook and Twitter now have spaces through which information can be advertised to preferred audiences. Political appointees equally have Facebook pages through which they easily post their activities and those of agencies or government for the public to view, instead of approaching media houses to publish such at a cost. These have forced many media outfits to wind up.
The fast adaptation to Internet usage by most people is an advantage and also a disadvantage to many media outfits. The Internet makes it easier for them to publish news without much costs and even faster, however the rapid growth of the Internet has caused them to be witnessing massive declines in revenue as few adverts and paid information for publication are received. Many media agencies strictly adhere to online method of news publication, however many if not all other outfits that preferred print or electronic means of publication now also utilise the online method of publication due to its fastness in gathering audience at low costs.
These developments have caused serious competition in the industry, thereby making many media agencies to get broke to the extent of owing their workers for months. This is sad because journalism is a risky profession that is critical to the development of the nation. Owing journalists is not only wicked but a danger to our democracy. The inability of many media houses to fulfil their financial obligations to their workers has led to the increase in the rate of ‘brown envelope journalism. Many journalists no longer report the truth but report according to the wishes or sentiments of anyone that offers them money, no matter how little it is.
These developments have also increased laziness among a number of journalists and editors who no longer hunt for news but will wait for any press statement issued by the state and publish it without any effort of investigation. It has also caused an increase on the level of dishonesty among government officials as they know that reporters are now too poor to carry out an undiluted investigation on the programmes of government. Most of the media now report and make the public to believe every press release from the government, and sometimes reporters report falsely against any government official, agency, company or even individual that fails to issue them brown envelops. These issues are of great concern to the development of our democracy and transparency in leadership.
What can be the way out?
Since it is now clear that the world is fast adapting to the Internet and people are no longer willing to pay for information, the media should invent a different means of revenue generation. It is time for the media to know that broadcasting is no longer a business but a selfless service to mankind; instead of waiting for advertisers, sponsored programmes or brown envelopes to generate revenue, the media should invest in the production of essential commodities or the establishment of profit driven companies or agencies in their names. It will be glad to see an industry, estate or large business enterprise named after a media organisation. Such will generate enough revenue for such media and enable them to sustain their employees. If a media house has a different outfit that generates revenue for it, it will focus on delivering efficient investigative journalism. It will also make the government to sit up, as the media will no longer tolerate lazy journalism that depends on government releases with less or no proper investigation. This will also make the media to focus on its services, rather than having revenue generation divide it’s attention.
For any media to be efficient, it must have a different revenue source that doesn’t depend on its broadcasts or publications in order to succeed at its primary calling.
May God continue to bless the Nigerian Media.
Chukwuemerie Uduchukwu writes from Nnewi, Anambra state.