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WPFD2020: Media must innovate, adapt to survive COVID-19 – Aiyetan

DAYO Aiyetan, the Executive Director of the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) on Sunday advised stakeholders in the media industry to prepare for the possible outcome of post-Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

He also stressed the need for them to embrace innovation and adaptation as a survival strategy.

He disclosed this during a tweet chat, themed Economic Impact of COVID-19 on the Media Industry, organised by the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), to commemorate the International Press Freedom Day 2020.

“We would learn quickly to innovate and adapt to new ways of plying our trade. I also think we would learn to collaborate more because the pandemic is showing us that there is strength in numbers,” he said.

Aiyetan explained that the implication of the COVID-19 pandemic on socio-economic survival across all sectors would no doubt affect the media space, especially in terms of job security.

The Press Freedom day is an annual event celebrated globally usually with supports from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), to highlight issues affecting the media and proffer likely solutions. This year’s celebration is themed Journalism Without Fear or Favour.

During the conversation, Aiyetan, advised media houses to consider alternative sources of sustaining their operations.

International Press Freedom Day 2020 Tweet Chat
Photo Source: PTCIJ

He identified sources such as grants, new partnerships, being creative and taking advantage of new opportunities of data, fact-checking as well as creating unique contents that could carve out their uniqueness.

“…I do know many media houses that would not survive this pandemic without help from somewhere. Many are already either cutting salaries or laying off staff…,” he added, while also responding to plans by the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Information and Culture to support the creative industry.

He, however, stressed that the support should not serve as an avenue to gag the media as the government might believe it is rendering a favour to the press.

According to him, with such gesture, the government would attempt to control the media as being witnessed at the state-owned media organisations.

Toun Sonaiya, the Chief Executive Director of WEfm, a private radio station based in Abuja shared a similar position on possible media control, once the federal government eventually supports the media.

She advised the need for the media to consider alternative sources of generating income aftermath of COVID-19.

Sonaiaya, who emphasised on the autonomy of the media in order to effectively perform its function stressed that whatever support given by the government to the media firms, this should not come in form of carrots and stick, such that the media would be subjected to influence by the government.

“Providing an enabling environment by the Nigerian government for the media industry should come with no strings attached,” she said.

“Nigeria has signed up to various world conventions that align with giving freedom to the press. This is very important,” she added.

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