Director of the MacArthur Foundation, Africa Office in Nigeria, Kole Shettima, has called on media proprietors and managers of newsrooms to be wary of threats that involve reliance on a single source of income, particularly from the government.
Shettima made the call recently while speaking at an onboarding summit of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), under the aegis of Collaborative Media Engagement for Development Inclusivity and Accountability project.
He emphasised that media industry should put a strong barrier to deter the media from being overwhelmed and influenced by the ruling elites.
“If we do not have an independent media that holds the government accountable, democracy will collapse. The media was the vehicle that supported pro-democratic movement organisations in the country. The media is the oxygen of our democracy, and we need it for our democracy to thrive,” he said.
While addressing the participants, Shettima urged them to have multiple streams of income via subscriptions, advertisements, and memberships.
His words: “If you want to have an independent editorial, you must also have independent sources of income. If you depend on an advertisement from the government, then know you are doomed because all they need do is stop sending their advertisement to your media organisation.
“All the major newspapers we are talking about have collapsed because the revenue system has changed, and the COVID-19 has dramatically changed everybody’s life.
“New York Times, The Guardian, and others, as we may well know, are the ones that have taken the lead in that direction. They do not have to worry about where funds will come from because their subscribers and donors are more than enough in terms of the revenue needed.”