Isiaq Ajibola, a journalist, media entrepreneur and astute businessman, was at  one-time Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer at Media Trust Group, publishers of the Daily Trust Newspapers, who now runs a media consulting outfit, CBD Edge Communications Limited. Ajibola, studied Economics at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and also bagged Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the same institution. Determined to see to the success of the journalism profession, the media tycoon would this week, present his latest offering to the Nigeria people: A book entitled, “Journalism and Business: My Newspaper Odyssey” , a detailed account of the business side of the noble profession.

In this interview with our education correspondent, Dirisu Yakubu, Ajibola bares his mind on what motivated him to pen his journalism career in words, the future of journalism and sundry issues.

What is your experience in the media?

I have spent all my working life, which is about 27 years now, in the media industry. I started with some magazines, some based in Lagos and others in Kaduna. I co-founded Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily Trust Newspapers and also became the Pioneer General Manager of the company. Later, I became Executive Director (Operations) and ended up as Managing Director for about eight years. In all, I spent about 20 years in Daily Trust.

How were you then able to write the book you are about to present this week and what is it really about?

Essentially, the book looks at the operations of newspaper houses from the business angle. I am a student of business; I have an MBA and I am quite familiar with many theories of management. So, I’m trying to see how some of these theories work in practical terms. My experience has shown that some of these theories are just myth; they don’t work, while some can actually work when put into practice.

For instance, before you start a business, you must probably provide a very bankable proposal to a bank. You also need huge capital to take off, especially for a newspaper, which is capital intensive. This is what many people believe. But my experience shows that while these conditions are important, they are not as significant as the idea, set-up and commitment of the founder (s).

Thus, my experience conflicts with some of the theories of business that we were thought in school.   I therefore consider it necessary to share my findings with the public and the newspaper as it were. How, for instance should the various departments in a newspaper outfit interrelate for maximum service delivery? Are they relating well and if yes, are they producing the desired result? When I sought for literature to read in this area, I found none and that inspired me to document my experience in the form of a book, which will be presented by the grace of God to the public this week.

Ajibola
Ajibola

Is that all the book looks at?

  Ideally, the book takes a look at the media industry as a whole, the ups and downs of the industry, the era of military dictatorships, the period of economic boom and now, recession. It also details public expectations of the media especially with the incursion of the internet and the social media. I believe the book will be very useful for academic and non-academic purposes. Businessmen, start-ups and students of Mass Communication would find it very informative and useful.

As a media person, you must be worried about the unprofessional conducts by some elements in the social media. We’ve seen outright falsehood reported time and again and it appears these folks are bent on doing the journalism profession continuous harm. Is there a way out of this ugly practice? 

You see, one of the areas touched by the book is the future of newspapers. The incursion of the internet and the social media has altered some equations. The company I chair today, the CBD Media Edge Communications Limited, conducted an opinion poll not long ago on the relationship between the online and traditional newspapers. What we found out was that there is a serious migration from the print to online news media. Although, everyone is aware of this, we did the survey primarily to determine the rate of the migration. One of our key respondents were the media operators. The operators are worried about this especially considering all manner of contents published in some of these online platforms. If there is cooperation in the industry, I believe this problem can be genuinely addressed. Like you rightly pointed out, the unprofessionalism is something that is not in the best interest of our noble profession and given the tendency of ill-informed readers to take these stories as authentic; something needs to be done. I laugh when I see some stories on the internet and as a trained journalist; I don’t usually take them serious unless the source is credible. But the danger here is that gullible persons do take these ‘stories’ serious. Collectively, the industry can address this and it is one of the reforms the book is clamouring for.

With your background in Economics and Business Management, you were expected to have channelled your energies into money-spinning ventures and not journalism?

Many people expected me to work in the banking sector but that was not what I wanted. I had the opportunity to work in a bank but I didn’t take it because I have always loved newspapers and I wanted something that would give me freedom.

Books on different aspects of journalism have been written and presented to the public in the past. There’s one authored by Mike Awoyinfa and the late Dimgba Igwe about two years ago. What makes “Journalism and Business” different from what we’ve seen already?

  Thank you very much for that question. My book is different in the sense that it is devoted more to the business side of journalism. In fact, there is a chapter that dwells on the synergy between the editorial and the business arm of the Newspaper. There are not too many books on this and to the best of my knowledge, most available literature are purely on journalism. So, the book is quite unlike many I have seen and that informed the title,  ‘Journalism and Business: My Newspaper Odyssey.’ 

What is your new company, CBD Edge Communications all about? Is that a combination of journalism and business?

CBD Media Edge Communications Limited is a media organization that focuses on corporate communication, opinion polls survey and branding. We have conducted opinion polls on  YouWin  and on the popularity of Muhammadu Buhari and recently; we conducted one on the relationship between the print and online newspapers. In the course of the book presentation, these surveys would be shared among those who will grace the event. We believe that those who come for the book presentation should at least go home with something.

Given your busy schedule occasioned by the nurturing of CBD Communications Limited, how do you relax?

I have passion for golf. Anytime I feel like relaxing, I play golf.

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