A COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF MEDIA SUSTAINABILITY CONFERENCE IN CELEBRATION OF 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING (ICIR) HELD AT TRANSCORP HILTON, ABUJA ON WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22, 2022.
The International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) is a not-for-profit media organisation set up in 2012 for the purpose of accountability journalism in Nigeria. To mark its 10th anniversary in the Nigerian media industry, the ICIR organised this conference on ‘Media Sustainability in Nigeria,’ in order to dissect the existential challenges facing both legacy and digital media in the country. Held at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, the event had as keynote speaker, Tshepo Mahloele, Chairman, Arena Holdings, South Africa, who was represented by Mr Bongani Siqoko. former Editor Sunday Times, South Africa
Other panellists and dignitaries at the conference included the Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University, Kashere, Gombe State, Prof Umar Patte, the Chief Executive Officer and Director of Radio Now – Kadaria Ahmed; Founder of Connected Development (CODE), Mr Hamza Lawal; David Kaplan of the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN), Dapo Olorunyomi, Publisher of Premium Times; Managing Director, Guardian Newspaper, Martins Oloja (moderator of the panel session); Mr Babatunde Irukera – FCCPC; Malam Mannir Dan-Ali, former CEO/Editor in Chief, Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily Trust. Others are Mallam Isa Gusau, Special Adviser Media and Strategy, representing the Governor of Borno State, Prof Babagana Zulum; Mr Dayo Olaide, Deputy Director of MacArthur Foundation (Africa), a, former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu. The event, compered by Eugenia Abu, a multi-media strategist expert and broadcaster, started at about 10:30 am and closed at about 3.00pm.
- Building a sustainable media business is associated with being purpose-driven, therefore, media organisations, like other business concerns, must clearly define their purposes, from which they must come up with definite strategies for growth, development and sustainability models.
- Naturally, media organisations should be change agents in the society, therefore, media platforms must establish themselves as being relevant to the development of the society, else they will not attract patronage.
- Media organisations must deliberately ensure that their staff are competent and be able to deliver on the jobs in the best and competitive standard. Media organisations must emphasize excellence, openness, integrity, transparency, accountability, and must invest in exclusive and investigative contents in order to survive in the hostile business environment.
- To become commercially viable, media owners must invest in news gathering, and effectively fund journalists to do good stories. Journalists must not shy away from holding the government accountable, as that is one of the ways media could become relevant as the Fourth Estate of the Realm.
- Editors and media owners should become crusaders for media freedom and this starts by reassuring journalists that the integrity of the media will never be allowed to be tampered with.
- The independence of the media must as such be held sacrosanct, most importantly by editors and media owners. He called on African media owners and editors to stay vigilant and ensure that the voice of the media is not stifled.
- The media, in view of sustainability discourse, needs to explore new content generation opportunities and must be ready to diversify into areas where they have core competence, by coming up with products like music, movies, documentaries as well as other educational and entertainment concepts.
- The media needs to leverage the power of collaboration. At tables where conversations on global investigations e.g Wikileaks, Panama Papers and so on happens, African media must collaborate and ensure it is ably represented. African media must not be seen as purchasers of global content but must take its place as generators of global content.
- In thinking about media sustainability, African media must transit beyond news generation into knowledge generation, as part of its drives for diversification and sustainability.
- The media needs to address the challenge of trust deficit, as sub-standard news contents, misinformation, disinformation, and mal-information has threatened the confidence of the people in the media.
- The media should engage with media regulators on the need to re-evaluate the punitive approach to media regulations. It is believed that a closer working relationship with the regulators is important, while encouraging them to see the media as partners-in-progress.
- In order to improve the business environment and enable the media to thrive, the media must draw the attention of the government to the challenges of infrastructure deficit, like the lack of electricity, insecurity apparatus, and bad road network, etc, to ensure they are addressed.
Participants in the conference, drawn from diverse sectors in Nigeria, congratulated the ICIR for its tenacity that has made it possible for it to engage in critical reporting for 10 years on. They also commended the not-for-profit organisation for hosting the important conference on the contemporary challenge of media sustainability in Nigeria, and, by extension, in Africa. In its 10 years of operation, the ICIR, apart from publishing investigative stories, has helped to build the capacity of journalists across platforms and all the geopolitical zones in Nigeria in emerging areas of media and journalism.
Executive Director, ICIR
Dated 22nd June 2022