Friday, 21 June 2024 04:41

Writing for media and monetising it: An entrepreneur's perspective - Max Amuchie 

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Max Amuchie  Max Amuchie 

Last December, on my last day of work before Christmas, I sat alone in my office in Abuja, reflecting on my life's journey. I thought about my years in the media, especially the few years since I ventured into entrepreneurship. 

I remembered my post on Facebook in June 2015 announcing my resignation as Managing Editor at LEADERSHIP Newspaper and the planned unveiling of Sundiata Post as an online newspaper the following month. I thought about the people whose paths I had crossed in the media. 

I remembered the statement made by Abubakar Dangiwa Umar, a retired army colonel, when, as military Governor of Kaduna State in the late 1980s, he said he could follow the then military President Ibrahim Babangida to war blindfolded. That was a profound statement of loyalty. Never mind that Umar recanted after the 12 June 1993 election annulment in which the late MKO Abiola won. 

I thought about the people who have impacted my life and wondered if there were any of them I could follow to war blindfolded. Azubuike Ishiekwene, known as “Azu” to many of us, his admirers, came to my mind. He is a man who has had a profound impact on the careers of many media practitioners who have crossed his path, and I have been a significant beneficiary of his generosity. 

In Lagos, where I was Features Editor for several years at ThisDay, Azu set the pace at PUNCH, where he became an editor and, later, Executive Director of publications.

Our paths crossed again in 2013 in Abuja when he signed me as Managing Editor at 

LEADERSHIP, where he was Group Managing Director. No one wanted to miss the Management meetings on Mondays, not necessarily because of strict protocols but because of Azu's leadership style. 

I left the meetings enriched with deep insights into newspaper management, and they paid off for me when Sundiata Post was set up. When Sundiata Post was unveiled on 7 July 2015 in Abuja, Azu, ever supportive, was the moderator at the panel discussion on “New Media and the Future of Newspaper in Nigeria.” 

The panel discussed the paper delivered by Mohammed Haruna, then a syndicated columnist. Haruna is a national commissioner at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).  

However, Azu is better known for his writing. A hugely respected syndicated columnist, week after week, he writes about Nigeria, its history, the state of the union, and its place under the sun. 

His commitment to excellence is well-known to anyone who has worked with him. However, his concern about how journalists and content producers can earn money and live well would appear to be a revelation. This concern has kept many media practitioners awake at night, especially in the Internet age, when content is available almost free of charge or even stolen.

Getting paid for content is an issue that media practitioners have been grappling with. This has hit online publishers as they have no physical copies to sell. In the craze for traffic, they publish content without getting rewarded. 

In this regard, Azu’s new book, Writing for Media and Monetising It, is an idea whose time has come. No other person is more suited to write this book than Azu, a media management guru, content producer and columnist who has made his mark nationally and internationally.

True, Azu didn't set out to write a book for entrepreneurs. He is clear about the purpose of the book. He could no longer ignore suggestions from admirers to share his experience in a permanent form, having been writing for more than 35 years. 

His words: "I thought perhaps it might be useful to combine my speaking experiences with decades of reporting, editing and writing a weekly column now enriched in both audio and visual formats, to serve the needs of a younger generation of content providers, especially students and those in the earlier stages of their career, trying to find their way and also trying to make an honest living while doing so."

He has, however, written a handbook for media entrepreneurs, especially online publishers. The Nigerian media landscape is inundated with several online newspapers, most of them in the general news category, financially challenged and struggling to carve a niche in a way that can guarantee their continued operations. 

The critical issue in online publishing is content. Other issues like search engine optimisation, digital marketing, website friendliness, and social media presence are also vital to the success and sustainability of an online media business. However, the factor that binds all these and makes a platform stand out is content. That is why Bill Gates said content is king. 

An online publisher would find chapters 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 13 and 14 helpful. In these chapters, the author offers prescriptions that, if followed religiously, could lead to tremendous success. Apart from content, the author discusses the choice of subject, style, audience, staying out of trouble, etc.

His reference to an article by his former lecturer, Olatunji Dare, on stalactites and stalagmites, for example, makes the point that evergreens do far better than ephemeral content, even on social media. 

In Writing for the Media and Monetising It, Azu delves into the distinction between style and substance. He takes the reader through the efforts he made to create his style from a long list of writers he admired, from acclaimed journalists like Dele Giwa, Ray Ekpu and Yakubu Mohammed to literary writers like Chinua Achebe and Mark Twain before he settled on his unique style.

Azu deals with the subject of knowing one's audience in Chapter 4. He writes: “Not everyone is interested in what you say. For those who follow you, however, you must find valuable ways of connecting with them in a world of many, often noisy and confusing voices.” 

The author gives tips on how a writer can build their audience and earn money from content provided for that audience. In online publishing, a platform can adapt the tips given by the author, carve a niche, focus on that niche and earn money from that niche.

The author discusses content creation in detail, using the examples of Linda Ikeji, the blogger; Abdulsalam Idris, who has recorded tremendous success sharing content on X (now Twitter); Adeola Fayehun, producer of ‘Keeping It Real with Adeola', and Tunde Olaoluwa Adekunle, blogger, comedian, entertainer and musician.

And hey, Azu’s book promotional videos in the last few weeks, ahead of the public presentation of his book in Abuja on June 26, is a master class in content creation!

His book is easy to read. I hardly put it down when I started reading it. The book's strength lies in the practical examples the author uses to explain the issues discussed. He tells the reader about his own experiences, the challenges he encountered along the way, and the steps he took to overcome those challenges.

The sentences and paragraphs are short, and the design and layout are compelling. A reader can do exercises to engage or explore each subject further. In addition, each chapter has boxes, tips and reading lists for easy reading. 

Whether one is a mass communication student, a journalist, a journalism teacher, a media entrepreneur or a New Media enthusiast, there is something in the book for everyone. 

•Amuchie, Founder/CEO of Sundiata Post Media Ltd, is a member of the Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers. He is also the immediate past president of the Rotary Club of Abuja CBD and the outgoing vice president of public relations at the Unity Toastmasters Club in Abuja.

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