The Guardian at 39… Refreshing the brand to better impact | The Guardian Nigeria News

By Gbenga Salau

July 03, 2022 | 4:04

Its birth on February 22, 1983 as a weekly publication and then a daily publication on July 4, created a sea change in the practice of journalism in Nigeria.

Its birth on February 22, 1983 as a weekly publication and then a daily publication on July 4, created a sea change in the practice of journalism in Nigeria. No wonder, soon after The Guardian entered the Nigerian media space, it became the flagship product, as it improves daily to live up to its motto: “Truth, Trustworthy, Yesterday and Tomorrow, for the “conscience” continues to be “nourished by Truth”.’

Although the media industry is generally questioned, especially the print media from which The Guardian started, its forward-looking ideals gradually transformed it into a media group, establishing digital platforms that included The Guardian Television as well as a social media presence. platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Over the years, what has kept the newspaper going is its executives’ ability to refresh the brand to continually endear it to the marketplace. For example, in 1988, on its fifth anniversary, an annual conference was inaugurated to provide an overview of some of the challenges facing the country, as a way of intervening strategically in the building of our nation.

The subject of the first edition was the problems of the structural adjustment program (SAP) introduced by the military administration of the time of General Ibrahim Babangida. Notably, the title was The Debt Trap, Structural Adjustment and the Future of the Third World, with former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Mr. Michael Manley, then Leader of the Opposition in the Jamaican Parliament, as speaker guest.

The fifth anniversary celebration was a week-long package which included the public presentation of the book, Perspectives on Nigerian Literature: 1700 to the Present Vols I & II, a compilation of excerpts from The Guardian Literary Series, the conference s is demarcated.

In The Guardian’s mix was its human resources where many of those employed full-time in the newsroom or part-time in the editorial board were brain people who were constantly adding color through their writing and their relationship to the brand. The team was largely responsible for what a revered expert in the history of the press, the late Professor Fred Omu, described as the “dynamic influence” The Guardian exerted on Nigerian journalism.

In his scholarly article entitled “Journalism in Nigeria: A Historical Overview” and published in 1996 in “Journalism in Nigeria: Issues and Perspectives”, Professor Omu further wrote: “The Guardian considers itself the flagship of the Nigerian press and so it is. It was unquestionably the finest newspaper ever produced in Nigeria and its brand of journalism had a profound and provocative impact on Nigerian journalism.

“The principles it sets out and the standards it represents make it a national institution. In the poise and polish of its language, in its cultured and intellectual approach to argument and controversy, in its penetrating and persuasive analysis and interpretation, in its promotion of ideological pluralism, and in its efforts to place events in their historical perspective, The Guardian has earned high esteem in Nigeria and outside as one of Africa’s most authoritative newspapers. His journalistic achievements are sure to influence the newspaper industry for a long time.

Although the media industry over the years has gone through turbulent times, with so many publications before and after the birth of The Guardian, the publication has continued to be on newsstands, providing scintillating reports to Nigerians and non-Nigerians.

The publication started out as a 16-page article, but later published, on average, 64 pages and sometimes over 100 pages with increasing ad sales. However, over the past three years, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has mandated 32-page publication by virtually all print media with an occasional increase in pagination above 32 pages, particularly when are a significant number of ad streams to support the increase.

Over the years, The Guardian has provided the refreshing model of the practice of journalism in Nigeria, which has been attested to by media players and award schemes such as the Diamond Award for Media Excellence (DAME); the Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA); and many more. The publication has won local and international awards.

In 39 years of existence, The Guardian has been edited by six leading journalists; Lade Bonuola, Femi Kusa, Emeka Izeze, Debo Adesina, Martins Oloja and Abraham Ogbodo. The seventh Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Alabi Williams took office on June 8, 2020 alongside other professionals who have also been elevated to different positions. They are Martins Oloja (managing director/editor); Kabir Alabi Garba (Editor, The Guardian on Sunday); and Francis Chuks Nwanne (Editor, The Guardian Saturday). Two insiders had also served as the journal’s acting editor: Jewell Dafinone (January to June 2016) and Dr. Paul Onomuakpokpo (July 1, 2019 to June 4, 2020).

Despite its achievements celebrated by its admirers, The Guardian has also had its fair share of work. In 1976, when the newspaper was incubated, the military was in power. But by the time the paper was launched on July 4, 1983 as a daily publication, the civilian administration headed by Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who was sworn in on October 1, 1979, had only six months left before the government be reversed in December. 31, 1983 with General Muhammadu Buhari as Head of State.

Thus, in 1984, two journalists working for the press company – Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor – were tried and imprisoned under Executive Order No. 4 of 1984 – Public Officials (Protection from False Accusation).

So over the past 39 years, The Guardian has continued to weather the storms, staying true to its ethos of “an independent newspaper, established for the purpose of presenting balanced coverage of events and promoting the best interests of Nigeria”. .

It was conceived as a well-planned and carefully thought-out undertaking, which would present balanced coverage and projection of news and views, maintain political neutrality and independence, and elevate the tone of public discourse.

As a liberal newspaper committed to the best traditions and ideals of republican democracy, The Guardian believes that it is the responsibility of the state not only to protect and defend the citizens, but also to create the political, social, economic and cultural opportunities in which all citizens can realize their highest potential as human beings. And as “the standard bearer of the Nigerian press”, The Guardian has led successive governments and public reading on the best way to live.

Over the past six years, The Guardian has responded significantly to the challenges posed by innovations in the global media industry driven by digital technology. The re-engineering process allowed the newspaper company to solidify its profile as a multimedia establishment in addition to preserving the company’s cherished value of being the best and most authoritative newspaper available to readers on various platforms. .

Indeed, the creation of various platforms has been part of the brand since its inception, as it created, in 1986, The Guardian family of publications comprising the fast-paced, comprehensive but capsule afternoon newspaper, Guardian Express; the racy but understated and chic weekend paper, Lagos Life; The Guardian Financial Weekly, then called a “Broad Street handbook”, and The African Guardian, a comprehensive weekly news and analysis magazine. Each of these publications was driven by the spirit of The Guardian and operated within its philosophy.

The sad impact of the newspaper’s proscription on August 14, 1994 by the military government led by General Sani Abacha was the rest of these publications when it reopened in mid-1995. The Guardian returned to the newsstand on October 1, 1995 as a publication that aggregates all of these other subtitles.

Rebranding efforts over the past two years have led to the infusion of the digital platform and print unit, as have new sections like LagosLife in The Guardian on Sunday and BigStory, which appears every Friday in the daily edition, were created. . Also, some sections of the journal have been changed, as what used to be Cover Pages in Weekend Headlines are now SpecialFeature Pages. All this is aimed at consolidating its grip on the market.

Lucas E. Kelly