Tuesday, February 16, 2021

How Newspapers started in Nigeria

Headline

tiamin rice

NigeriaNews is a news portal for reading all Nigeria News from Punch, Vanguard, The Nation, Daily Times, Sahara Reporter, ThisDay & Leadership in one spot. Nigerian newspapers have an affinity for a ‘British Tabloid’ style journalism. Most of the newspapers and their online version trend strongly towards breaking news, entertainment, politics, business, features and opinions and sports. It is a website to read Nigeria news and world news (Breaking Announcement, Headline News & News Summary) as events unfold in Nigeria and around the World.

The history of news media in Nigeria goes as far back as the 1840s when European missionaries established community newspapers to propagate Christianity. This initiative later gave rise to the establishment of some news paper outfits in Nigeria by the likes of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in 1937. Titled West African Pilot, Zik’s paper pioneered a general protest against the British colonial rule and resulted to the eventual attainment of independence in 1960. This powerful influence manifested by the paper led to the establishment of many newspapers, especially in the 1960s.

Newspapers and Mass Communication

Newspaper is a fraction of one of the means of mass communication – the print media of the press. Printed media usually distributed weekly or daily in the form of a folded book of papers. The publication is typically sectioned off based on subject and content. The most important or interesting news will be displayed on the front page of the publication. Newspapers may also include advertisements, opinions, entertainment and other general interest news. Some of the most popular newspapers are the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.

Newspapers Publication Time

A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features, editorials, and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a day. The worldwide recession of 2008, combined with the rapid growth of web-based alternatives, caused a serious decline in advertising and circulation, as many papers closed or sharply retrenched operations.

General-interest newspapers typically publish stories on local and national political events and personalities, crime, business, entertainment, society, and sports. Most traditional papers also feature an editorial page containing editorials written by an editor and columns that express the personal opinions of writers. The newspaper is typically funded by paid subscriptions and advertising.

A wide variety of material has been published in newspapers, including editorial opinions, criticism, persuasion and op-eds; obituaries; entertainment features such as crosswords, sudoku and horoscopes; weather news and forecasts; advice, food and other columns; reviews of radio, movies, television, plays and restaurants; classified ads; display ads, radio and television listings, inserts from local merchants, editorial cartoons, gag cartoons and comic strips.

The History of Newspaper in Nigeria

However, the history of print media, press or newspaper in Nigeria cannot be traced without deep reference to its major root which has an often-dramatic chapter of the human experience going back some five centuries. In Renaissance Europe handwritten newsletters circulated privately among merchants, passing along information about everything from wars and economic conditions to social customs and “human interest” features. The first printed forerunners of the newspaper appeared in Germany in the late 1400’s in the form of news pamphlets or broadsides, often highly sensationalized in content. Some of the most famous of these report the atrocities against Germans in Transylvania perpetrated by a sadistic veovod named Vlad Tsepes Drakul, who became the Count Dracula of later folklore.

In the English-speaking world, the earliest predecessors of the newspaper were corantos, small news pamphlets produced only when some event worthy of notice occurred. The first successively published title was The Weekly Newes of 1622. It was followed in the 1640’s and 1650’s by a plethora of different titles in the similar newsbook format. The first true newspaper in English was the London Gazette of 1666. For a generation, it was the only officially sanctioned newspaper, though many periodical titles were in print by the century’s end.

The Beginning of Newspaper in America

In America, the first newspaper appeared in Boston in 1690, entitled Public Occurrences. Published without authority, it was immediately suppressed, its publisher arrested, and all copies were destroyed. Indeed, it remained forgotten until 1845 when the only known surviving example was discovered in the British Library. The first successful newspaper was the Boston News-Letter, begun by postmaster John Campbell in 1704. Although it was heavily subsidized by the colonial government the experiment was a near-failure, with very limited circulation. Two more papers made their appearance in the 1720’s, in Philadelphia and New York, and the Fourth Estate slowly became established on the new continent. By the eve of the Revolutionary War, some two dozen papers were issued at all the colonies, although Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania would remain the centers of American printing for many years. Articles in colonial papers, brilliantly conceived by revolutionary propagandists, were a major force that influenced public opinion in America from reconciliation with England to full political independence.

At war’s end in 1783, there were forty-three newspapers in print. The press played a vital role in the affairs of the new nation; many more newspapers were started, representing all shades of political opinion. The no holds barred style of early journalism, much of it libelous by modern standards, reflected the rough and tumble political life of the republic as rival factions jostled for power. The ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791 at last guaranteed of freedom of the press and America’s newspapers began to take on a central role in national affairs. Growth continued in every state. By 1814 there were 346 newspapers. In the Jacksonian populist 1830’s, advances in printing and papermaking technology led to an explosion of newspaper growth, the emergence of the “Penny Press”; it was now possible to produce a newspaper that could be sold for just a cent a copy. Previously, newspapers were the province of the wealthy, literate minority. The price of a year’s subscription, usually over a full week’s pay for a laborer, had to be paid in full and “invariably in advance.” This sudden availability of cheap, interesting reading material was a significant stimulus to the achievement of the nearly universal literacy now taken for granted in America.

The American Newspaper Vending Machine

A common measure of a newspaper’s health is market penetration, expressed as a percentage of households that receive a copy of the newspaper against the total number of households in the paper’s market area. In the 1920s, on a national basis in the U.S., daily newspapers achieved market penetration of 123 percent (meaning the average U.S. household received 1.23 newspapers). As other media began to compete with newspapers, and as printing became easier and less expensive giving rise to a greater diversity of publications, market penetration began to decline. It wasn’t until the early 1970s, however, that market penetration dipped below 100 percent. By 2000, it was 53 percent. The portion of the newspaper that is not advertising is called editorial content, editorial matter, or simply editorial, although the last term is also used to refer specifically to those articles in which the newspaper and its guest writers express their opinions. (This distinction, however, developed over time – early publishers like Girardin (France) and Zang (Austria) did not always distinguish paid items from editorial content.)

Newspapers Business Model

The business model of having advertising subsidize the cost of printing and distributing newspapers (and, it is always hoped, the making of a profit) rather than having subscribers cover the full cost was first done, it seems, in 1833 by The Sun, a daily paper that was published in New York City. Rather than charging 6 cents per copy, the price of a typical New York daily at the time, they charged 1 cent, and depended on advertising to make up the difference.

Newspapers in countries with easy access to the web have been hurt by the decline of many traditional advertisers. Department stores and supermarkets could be relied upon in the past to buy pages of newspaper advertisements, but due to industry consolidation are much less likely to do so now. Additionally, newspapers are seeing traditional advertisers shift to new media platforms. The classified category is shifting to sites including Craigslist, employment websites, and auto sites. National advertisers are shifting to many types of digital content including websites, rich media platforms, and mobile.

In recent years, the advertorial emerged. Advertorials are most commonly recognized as an opposite-editorial which third-parties pay a fee to have included in the paper. Advertorials commonly advertise new products or techniques, such as a new design for golf equipment, a new form of laser surgery, or weight-loss drugs. The tone is usually closer to that of a press release than of an objective news story

Newspapers and the industrial revolution

The industrial revolution, as it transformed all aspects of American life and society, dramatically affected newspapers. Both the numbers of papers and their paid circulations continued to rise. The 1850 census cataloged 2,526 titles. In the 1850’s powerful, giant presses appeared, able to print ten thousand complete papers per hour. At this time the first “pictorial” weekly newspapers emerged; they featured for the first time extensive illustrations of events in the news, as woodcut engravings made from correspondents’ sketches or taken from that new invention, the photograph. During the Civil War, the unprecedented demand for timely, accurate news reporting transformed American journalism into a dynamic, hard-hitting force in the national life. Reporters, called “specials,” became the darlings of the public and the idols of youngsters everywhere. Many accounts of battles turned in by these intrepid adventurers stand today as the definitive histories of their subjects.

Newspaper growth continued unabated in the postwar years. Some astounding 11,314 different papers were recorded in the 1880 census. By the 1890’s the first circulation figures of a million copies per issue were recorded (ironically, these newspapers are now quite rare due to the atrocious quality of cheap paper then in use, and to great losses in World War II era paper drives) At this period appeared the features of the modern newspaper, bold “banner” headlines, extensive use of illustrations, “funny pages,” plus expanded coverage of organized sporting events. The rise of “yellow journalism” also marks this era. Hearst could truthfully boast that his newspapers manufactured the public clamor for war on Spain in 1898. This is also the age of media consolidation, as many independent newspapers were swallowed up into powerful “chains”; with regrettable consequences for a once fearless and incorruptible press, many were reduced to vehicles for the distribution of the particular views of their owners, and so remained, without competing papers to challenge their viewpoints. By the 1910’s, all the essential features of the recognizably modern newspaper had emerged. In our time, radio and television have gradually supplanted newspapers as the nation’s primary information sources, so it may be difficult initially to appreciate the role that newspapers have played in our history.

The rise of “yellow journalism” also marks this era. Hearst could truthfully boast that his newspapers manufactured the public clamor for war on Spain in 1898. This is also the age of media consolidation, as many independent newspapers were swallowed up into powerful “chains”; with regrettable consequences for a once fearless and incorruptible press, many were reduced to vehicles for the distribution of the particular views of their owners, and so remained, without competing papers to challenge their viewpoints. By the 1910’s, all the essential features of the recognizably modern newspaper had emerged. In our time, radio and television have gradually supplanted newspapers as the nation’s primary information sources, so it may be difficult initially to appreciate the role that newspapers have played in our history.

The evolution of newspaper in Nigeria

The history of print media in Nigeria goes far back as the 1840s when European missionaries established community newspapers to propagate Christianity. This initiative later gave rise to the establishment of newspaper outfits by the likes of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in 1937. Titled West African Pilot, Zik’s paper pioneered a general protest against the British colonial rule and resulted to the eventual attainment of independence in 1960.

This powerful influence manifested by the paper led to the establishment of many newspapers especially in the 1960s. The New Nigerian Newspaper Limited, with its head office along Ahmadu Bello Way, Kaduna, was established by the then government of the Northern Region on 23rd October, 1964. The first copies of the newspaper were issued on January 1st 1966. Its initial name was Northern Nigerian Newspapers Limited. But when states were created out of the regions in 1964 it was changed to New Nigerian Newspapers Limited as it is known today. Before the establishment of the New Nigerian Newspapers, the Northern Nigerian Government had established a Hausa language newspaper in Zaria called Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo in 1936. And within the stable of Gaskiya Corporation, printer of the paper, an English language vision, Nigerian Citizen emerged in 1965. Then a few months later (in 1966) its name was changed to New Nigerian and the headquarters relocated to Kaduna where it is now based.

In March, 1973, the company set up the southern plant (printing machine) alongside the one in Kaduna. The simultaneous printing of the newspaper in both Kaduna and Lagos enhanced a wide circulation of the paper. When the Northern Region was divided into six states through the creation of 12 states by the Federal Government in July 1967, the ownership and management of the company were transferred to the Northern states, managed by the Interim Common Services Agency (ICSA). Then later the company was fully taken over by the Federal Government in August 1975 and placed under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Information. It was handed back to the Northern states in 2006. Hence, it is currently owned and controlled by the 19 states. At present, the company has four titles in its stable: New Nigerian, (daily) Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo (Hausa publication, published every Monday and Thursday) New Nigerian On Sunday and New Nigerian Weekly (published on Saturdays). New Nigerian was first published on 1st January 1966, Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo came on board on 1st January 1936, New Nigerian On Sunday was set up on 24th

At present, the company has four titles in its stable: New Nigerian, (daily) Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo (Hausa publication, published every Monday and Thursday) New Nigerian On Sunday and New Nigerian Weekly (published on Saturdays). New Nigerian was first published on 1st January 1966, Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo came on board on 1st January 1936, New Nigerian On Sunday was set up on 24th May, 1981 and New Nigerian weekly was established on February 21st, 1998. The company operates a commercial/stationery printing department, which undertakes printing jobs of various types and produces high quality exercise books and other stationery. In order to consolidate its economic base, the company went into property development projects in 1977 with the construction of the Imam House (named after the first indigenous Editor of Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo, Abubakar Imam) and the multi-storey building known as Nagwamatse House, presently housing Unity Bank, AIT station, Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, etc. This is in addition to the senior staff quarters at Isa Kaita and Malali Village, respectively. (c) Sumaila Umaisha.

Meanwhile, the anti-colonialist tone of pre-independence Nigerian press gave way to heady euphoria as the Union Jack was lowered on October 1, 1960. The era of the nationalist press was coming to an end and the challenges that lay ahead was envisaged, but not sufficiently grappled with; what mattered was the moment. The British were leaving; Nigeria had become a self- governing nation. The enemy had been forced to give in; the search for new enemies was on, although not many thought of this struggle in those terms. Sapara Williams prediction in 1909, that hypersensitive officials may come tomorrow who will see sedition in every criticism, and crime in every mass meeting made in response to that year enactment by the Nigerian colonial administration of the Seditious Offences Ordinance was apparently a distant memory and a relic of the past. The target of much of the activities of the local press had been removed; this was now a government of the people. The struggle of adjustment to the new realities, shifting from familiar shrill calls for self-government to the vista that called for a concerted effort at nation-building, presented new and unfamiliar challenges. It was, for the press, an uncharted territory that, in traversing it, naturally took a toll on the newspapers. The natives’ battle for self-determination had been won, but where to channel all the power still in the hand of the press, had become a new battle in itself. As the former chairman and managing director of the Daily Times of Nigeria, Dr. Babatunde Jose, the late doyen of the Nigerian press reminisced to a gathering of the Royal African Society in April 1975, barely three months before the Nigerian government announced it was taking over control of the newspaper establishment: In the name of press freedom and nationalism, we deliberately wrote seditious and criminally libelous articles against colonial governments. The local leaders who took over from the British were, however, wary of the press, and so not as tolerant, as we shall see shortly. Following independence and the crises of adjustment that accompanied it, those that witnessed the struggles of the newspaper and survived to tell the story were thinning out.

The enemy had been forced to give in; the search for new enemies was on, although not many thought of this struggle in those terms. Sapara Williams prediction in 1909, that hypersensitive officials may come tomorrow who will see sedition in every criticism, and crime in every mass meeting made in response to that year enactment by the Nigerian colonial administration of the Seditious Offences Ordinance was apparently a distant memory and a relic of the past. The target of much of the activities of the local press had been removed; this was now a government of the people. The struggle of adjustment to the new realities, shifting from familiar shrill calls for self-government to the vista that called for a concerted effort at nation-building, presented new and unfamiliar challenges. It was, for the press, an uncharted territory that, in traversing it, naturally took a toll on the newspapers.

The natives’ battle for self-determination had been won, but where to channel all the power still in the hand of the press, had become a new battle in itself. As the former chairman and managing director of the Daily Times of Nigeria, Dr. Babatunde Jose, the late doyen of the Nigerian press reminisced to a gathering of the Royal African Society in April 1975, barely three months before the Nigerian government announced it was taking over control of the newspaper establishment: In the name of press freedom and nationalism, we deliberately wrote seditious and criminally libelous articles against colonial governments. The local leaders who took over from the British were, however, wary of the press, and so not as tolerant, as we shall see shortly. Following independence and the crises of adjustment that accompanied it, those that witnessed the struggles of the newspaper and survived to tell the story were thinning out.

The survivors were a mix of the private press and government mouthpieces, and included the West African Pilot of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, founded in 1937; the Daily Times, which began publishing with the technical assistance of the Mirror Group of London; the Nigerian Citizen, published by the Zaria-based Gaskiya Corporation, and which would later become, in 1966 the New Nigerian and a powerful Northern organ operating out of its headquarters in Kaduna; the Daily Express, which was the result of a partnership between Roy Thompson of Great Britain and an amalgam of the Nigerian Tribune and the Daily Service; the Nigerian Outlook: and the Nigerian Tribune, mouthpiece of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Group party and staunch defender of Western Regional, particularly Yoruba, interests.

The Federal Government in 1961 established its own newspapers, the Morning Post and Sunday Post. It became clear, after the departure of the British and the country had become independent, that regionalism had become a potent force that militated against efforts to foster a more Nigerian national outlook among the various ethnic groups in Nigeria. The need for the regional governments to assert their points of view through media they controlled became, to them, self-evident. Moreover, given recent experience, the private press that was in business could scarcely be trusted by the new rulers to do their bidding. The roots of ethnic nationalism were being sown, and these would manifest in various struggles for self- identity, one of them being establishing newspapers to project such identity considered inherent in these ethnic nationalities.

The involvement of post-colonial administrations in newspaper publishing began early after independence, with the Federal Government launching its Post publications in 1961, determining that it needed such an organ in order to make its voice heard by the people. But the regional government saw it differently, as an instrument of propaganda in the hand of Federal Government, at the time dominated by the Northern People’s Congress (NPC). At independence, there were three regions, North, East, and West, that constituted the Nigerian federation (it would not become a republic until 1963, when a fourth region, Mid-West, was also created). The history of the press since independence is a reflection of the political development of the country.

The first biggest attempt by any government in Nigeria to set up a newspaper was made by Northern Nigerian Government, with the establishment of Gaskiya Corporation, with the Lieutenant Governor editing a Hausa language news-sheet called Jaridar Nigeria Ta Arewa (Northern Provinces News). Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo made its debut in 1937 and, in 1948 began publishing the English-language bi-weekly the Nigerian Citizen. It became a weekly later on. The NPC started the Daily Mail in Kano in 1960; it went out of circulation in 1963. In the West, Chief Awolowo’s Action Group, with the Nigerian Tribune already under its control, used it to great political advantage, rallying the Western region.

It was privately-owned. The regional government later set up its own mouthpiece, called The Sketch. In the East, Azikiwe’s West African Pilot, although it had impressive national spread, often rivaling the equally privately owned Daily Times, was the dominant organ there.

The regional government established its own Nigerian Outlook, which would later at onset of the Nigerian civil war, become Biafra Outlook. The Nigerian Citizen would later, in January 1966, become the New Nigerian to prove more than a match for the Outlook as the nation descended into chaos and civil war. Creation of states brought new opportunities for state governments to float their own newspapers, absolutely owned by them.

There were The Triumph in Kano, Nigerian Observer in the old Bendel State (now Edo and Delta states); The Herald Kwara ; Nigeria Standard in Benue-Plateau (now Plateau, Benue and Nasarawa states); Nigerian Voice in Benue; Daily Star in Enugu; Nigerian Statesman in Imo; Nigerian Tide in Rivers; Nigerian Chronicle in Cross River; The Path in Sokoto, etc. Of these, only a couple, a handful at most, is in limited circulation today, making sporadic appearances.

With the expansion of political activities and advancements in literacy levels, investment in the development of private press also increased. With the established ones like the Daily Times already making considerable impact, business moguls like Chief MKO Abiola, who made a fortune as an executive in charge of the Middle East and Africa for the US conglomerate International Telephone and Telegraphs (ITT), spent a considerable chunk of it to set the Concord group, National Concord, Sunday Concord, African Concord (weekly magazine), and a chain of Community Concord in practically all the geopolitical zones in the country. With Abiola’s fatal foray into politics, the Concord group has long been rested. Chief Alex Ibru, another businessman established the Lagos-based The Guardian newspapers, complete with a weekly magazine, which has since been rested. Both publishing houses had brushes with the military government General Muhammadu Buhari then in power, which threw some of their senior editors in jail for breaching the law, Decree No. 4; this law was later repealed by another military administration, that of General Ibrahim Babangida.

Before this, the infamous Amakiri Affair, in which a security aide to the military governor of Rivers State, Commander Alfred PD Spiff, ordered the head of the Port Harcourt correspondent of the Nigerian Observer, Mr. Miniere Amakiri, to be shaved with blunt razor (other accounts said broken glass), and given twelve strokes of the cane and thrown into jail. His report in the newspaper on a threatened strike by teachers had embarrassed the governor because it appeared on the governor’s birthday, Such barbarities often commonplace under military regimes, have become rare occurrences, although their civilian successors sometimes maintain the draconian laws as a warning they would not be averse to applying them.

Even under the last civilian dispensation of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, security agents sealed off a couple of media houses because they published/broadcast material the government found disagreeable to it. It can thus be seen that the Nigerian press in the last 50 years since independence witnessed tremendous challenges as it struggled to adjust to new realities. While the post-independence growth largely followed a trajectory laden with heavy doses of ethnic jingoism, political biases and sometimes crass tribalism, the enduring trend is not much different in intent; the form has changed to more sophisticated and nuanced method.

The advent of modern methods of production and packaging the news meant that such jingoism is not so obvious, but no less prevalent. This is happening in spite of the declining interest in government (direct) ownership of newspapers, and the concomitant phenomenal increase in newspapers owned by private individuals and concerns. The last twenty years have seen the demise, resurrection of the Daily Times; The Telex, published in Zaria is now rested, so are the Democrat, a Kaduna-based broadsheet, and The Reporter, also Kaduna-based. In their place, although not previously part of them, has risen the Daily Trust, flagship of the Media Trust stable.

The Weekly Trust, previously based in Kaduna, has transformed into a major Nigerian stable that now also includes Daily Trust, Sunday Trust; a Hausa publication, Aminiya, Tambari, a weekly fashion magazine; Kano Chronicle, a community newspaper, and Kilimanjaro, an annual publication that coincides with the Daily Trust African of the Year awards. The company has since moved it’s corporate and operational headquarters to the nation’s capital, Abuja. The Vanguard newspaper and Punch newspaper have weathered many storms in their existence. Both have led the way in the improvement in the technical quality of newspaper production in Nigeria. The National Interest, an offshoot of ThisDay newspaper, is no longer in existence.

Related News

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest News

cosgrove