The newspaper that precipitated a change in government by exposing the true story of the state of health of Nigeria’s President Umaru Yar’Adua – who died on Wednesday – is now fighting for its own survival.
Next, an upstart of a newspaper launched in Lagos 15 months ago by Dele Olojede, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former foreign editor of New York Newsday, reported in January that the President of that oil-rich country of 150 million people was brain dead and would not be returning to office.
This was the bravest and boldest stroke of a newspaper that has trampled on so many powerful toes that its corporate advertising has dwindled and the distribution routes of its print edition have been sabotaged.
Philip van Niekerk looks at how Next is trying to reach new audiences and revenue streams through mobile, how it’s website has outstripped its competition and why such a newspaper is important for Nigeria:
The need for honest, brave journalism is huge and far overshadows the many millions of dollars of well-meaning aid and support for democracy and civil society that usually comes from foreign donors. This is one paper that can’t afford to die.
Three Nigerian journalists were killed last weekend, in two separate incidents, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Muslim rioters killed two reporters working with a local Christian newspaper on Saturday, according to local journalists and news reports. Also on Saturday, court reporter Edo Sule Ugbagwu, at left, from the private daily The Nation was shot dead at his home by two gunmen, according to local journalists.
Newswatch, the weekly Nigerian news magazine, has interviewed Bill Kovach, the former curator of the Nieman Journalism Foundation at Harvard University, and the founder of the Committee for Concerned Journalists, CCJ. Earlier in his career Kovach was chief of the New York Times Washington bureau, and executive editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Kovach answers questions about his (54 year long) career to date. Some of the best answers come near the end – on African news coverage, for example:
“[I] think the western world, I don’t know about the rest of the world, but the western world has always thought of Africa as something they had to interprete through their eyes and I always thought that was wrong.
“One of the things I love about the Nieman programme is that back in the 1960s, the Nieman programme refused to take people from South Africa because South African authorities only wanted white. But Harvard told the South African government and owners of the press that whites would be taken only if every other year, we got a black South African. And so, we began to bring into the Nieman programme white South Africans. Every other year, and soon it was every year, more whites and blacks got their chances.”