Media professionals and managers have been urged to go beyond their training in school to discharge their duties as journalists and master how to run profitable media enterprises that can transform the fortunes of a nation.
Renowned media enterprise manager and scholar, Dr Isah Momoh, made the call at the quarterly Jacksonites Professional Development Series (JPDS) virtual seminar held on 19th July 2022.
Dr Momoh who is the dean Institute of Management, Ed-John Institute of Management, while speaking on the topic: ‘Better Media Enterprise Management and Performance,’ charged journalists to go beyond the theoretical aspects taught in tertiary institutions in order to meet up with the industry demands.
“We all have to up our games by upping our skills beyond what we are taught in the universities to become professional communicators, managers, and entrepreneurs in this media industry’’, he said.
Chairperson of the JPDS Steering Committee, Prof Chinedu Mba of Algonquin College, Ottawa, Canada, said the theme of the webinar was inspired by the need to build more lasting and profitable media organisations across the country so as to help advance the course of democracy in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.
“The media play a very important role in influencing public opinion, human decisions and government agenda, but we all know that running a media enterprise is expensive and that’s where this fourth edition of the JPDS seminar comes in, to arm you with insights and strategies for building a lasting profitable media enterprise,” Prof Mba stated.
Dr Momoh decried the slow pace of Nigeria’s development since independence and noted that the nation would experience transformation when the media brace up to discharge their duties as the fourth estate of the realm. “We (the media industry) are not doing as much as we can and if we don’t sit up now and learn new skills and new tricks, we will be left behind because, what was good for Nigeria in 1961 (when the first journalism school was set up), is no longer adequate for us today.
He observed that the current curriculum for training media practitioners produced good journalists but is bereft of adequate exposure to management and entrepreneurship content. The result, he pointed out, has been weak media enterprises, low-performing media outfits, weak media professionals, declining society, and low media industry contribution.
For better media performance and profitability, Dr Momoh proposed that media managers should categorise their audiences and develop services/products (media contents) that match their needs and meet their expectations. “The more categories we can satisfy, the more we can keep them with us,” he added.
He further added that training, workshops, seminars and conferences of a media organisation and human resources are crucial for building a competent team while fairs and exhibition/event marketing are vital in marketing an organisation’s offering. He advised that efforts should equally be made to ensure periodic monitoring and evaluation which affords a time for retrospection research into
new products and trends as well as encourages innovation and creativity among the team.
Drawing from his experience as the Chief of Operations, Minaj TV, Momoh urged media managers not to be carried away by media popularity among consumer audiences, but ensure that their operation is optimized for profitability because the bottom line is not popularity but profitability. “We were popular in the streets of Onitsha but it didn’t reflect in our books. We had to go back to the
drawing board to re-strategise”, Dr Momoh revealed.
He stated that in managing media, the goal should be to elevate media capability, professionalism, and econometrics. Once they are taken care of, “our first reward shall be name, fame and recognition/respect, closely followed by growing incomes and profits.
“The incomes and profits of our financial investments must follow and be ethically sought, fought for, courted, counted, amassed, accounted for, and managed for good and increasing returns to shareholders.”
In an environment where a capital-intensive media enterprise is funded mainly by politicians, there seems to be an unending battle for supremacy between the proprietor’s interest and professionalism. Dr Momoh observed that politics has enabled Nigerian media but it has also hunted Nigerian media practice. In his words, “It has changed us from watchdogs and made us become the ‘watched dog’. But we need to free ourselves from this because journalism is still one of the bastions of democracy in the world. There can be no good democracy without a viable media.”
Reacting to the presentation, Emeritus Professor of Strategic Communication at the North Dakota State University, USA, Prof Charles Okigbo applauded the steering committee of the JPDS for their efforts in providing a platform for introspection on the media professionals’ training and hailed Dr Momoh’s submissions and added that realisation of deficiencies in curriculum development
is the first step towards fixing it.
Prof. Okigbo called on the participants and the JPDS team to do everything within their power to draw the attention of the National Universities Commission (NUC) to brilliant submissions on curricula revamp by Dr Momoh and asked lecturers to popularise the ideas in their conferences and schools.
Similarly, former Editor-in-Chief of the Champion Newspapers, Mr Ugo Onuoha noted that the media cannot operate in isolation and its performance is a reflection of the environment it’s operating in. Referencing the defunct NEXT Newspapers, he observed that the environment in Nigeria “appears to be a veritable disincentive to entrepreneurship whether media or elsewhere. The environment is oppressive and that also impacts on the quality and the success we make of what we set our hands to do.”
Further, he said that this era of new media has made fake news endemic since the democratisation of media has made journalism unregulated and all comers affairs. Also, the race to publish first has led to dishing out unverified news to the public.
He said such is causing damage to society as anyone who can get a smart device and internet access claims to be a journalist “inflicting their opinions and ignorance on the society, bastardising what should ordinarily be a noble profession.”
The over two hours seminar moderated by Mayor Ikoroha ended with a vote of thanks by the Chairperson of the steering committee, Prof. Mba who thanked everyone for joining and stated that a sequel workshop is planned on the same theme while the next quarterly seminar is scheduled for October.