Publisher of Vanguard Newspapers, Mr. Sam Amuka, yesterday said unless drastic action is taken by stakeholders in the media industry, the freedom of Nigerians may be curtailed due to government censorship.
Speaking as distinguished chairman at a programme organised to honour Mr. Gbenga Adefaye, former President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors and General Manager, Publications at Vanguard, by Center for Leadership in Journalism, CLeJ, Pan Atlantic University, PAU, School of Media and Communication, SMC, Mr. Amuka said, media as the mouth piece of Nigerians is facing threat from government censorship.
The theme of the programme jointly organised by the CLeJ with the Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, is:”Media in Transition: New Media Technology in Focus.” Mr. Amuka said: “On the topic, we need not worry about the new trend, but the steps being taken by the government to censor the media through the press council. “When we considered some of the laws meant to gag the print media some years back, we took government to court and we won. I must say the freedom being enjoyed by Nigerians today was based on the fact that we have the forum to express ourselves.
He also disputed arguments that newspaper publication may face difficult times in the near future based on the challenges posed by on-line media. While supporting arguments that stakeholders in print journalism should brace up for challenges, he however allayed fears that print journalism may go into extinction.
His words: “Research shows that on-line media does not generate enough advertisement like the newspapers. Are we really threatened? I don’t believe that newspapers will perish, since advert is where the survival of the newspaper lies.” Mr. Amuka said the only way was for the “operators to think about making it (newspaper) a business.” He commended Mr. Gbenga Adefaye who was honoured for his contributions to journalism by the Pan Atlantic University, noting, “he was able to raise the bar during his four years as president of the Nigerian Guild of Editors.” While calling on editors to take the battle headlong in guaranteeing the independence of the media, he sent a note of caution that, “we will all pay dearly if we allow them to have their (authorities) way.”
Speaking earlier, Dean of the School of Media and Communication, SMC, Professor Emevwo Biakolo said the school established three different centers- the Centre for Leadership in Journalism, (CLeJ), the Nollywood Studies Center (NSC) and the GfK Centre for Market and Social Research (MSR) “to foster closer relationships with the various industries that are of concern to us. “From the very beginning, the SMC has led other learning institutions in our country in actively pursuing intimate town-gown bonds.
“Our passionate interest in leadership in the media is driven by the recognition that media needs to reclaim the mantle of thought leadership. ”Among some of the more painful lacks in our country today is the absence of thought leadership.” He commended the leadership of Mr. Adefaye, who he said was part of the idea in the formation of CLeJ. “We remain grateful to one of our most fervent supporters of the CLeJ, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye, immediate past president of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, whom we honour today.
The signs are positive that the current president, Mr. Femi Adesina will continue to support the CLeJ as well, as it is a joint SMC-NGE project.” New president of the Guild, Mr. Femi Adesina also joined others to praise Mr. Adefaye, whose leadership roles he said have impacted positively in the Nigeria media industry. He observed that the honour given to him was well deserved. In his response, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye thanked the school as well as the Guild of Editors for the honour done him.
He challenged stakeholders in the print media, especially those who spoke on the theme of the day, to develop research on how to improve on the ‘traditional news papering’. He disputed the argument that readers of newspapers are declining by the day. According to him, research and data have shown that in spite of new technologies, people still read newspapers.
He therefore called on the people, particularly the university to create research on “profiling the media and come with result of how to make money for the newspapers in Nigeria.” Discussants, who presented different topics on the theme of the day, said that the time is ripe for newspaper companies to adjust to the reality on ground and look inward and embrace online media technologies. They argued that with the shift in the system, especially in the western world, to online media, this is an ominous signs for newspapers in the country.