Closing The Gap Between Media Practice And Profit: An Innovation

Southampton

Since the incursion of the new and social media, journalism has never remained the same. Whether you have one leg in the old, with the other in the new, or you have fully migrated to cyberspace, it is tricky to say to whom the race belongs. Is it the swiftest, smartest, richest, toughest or the roughest? This is coupled with the fact that in the online business, those who laugh all the way to the bank may not be the most professional, intelligent or wisest. So, where actually lies the money? What are the rules, the tricks and yardsticks for measuring overall success?

If you have been waiting for informed, sincere, dependable and practical answers to such questions, your waiting can be said to be over. The answers are laid bare, deposited like a box of gold, in Writing for the Media and Monetising It, a new book by veteran journalist and acclaimed columnist, Azu Ishiekwene. An invaluable gift to the media and adjoining industries, the book provides a clinical insight into the intrigues that characterise the relationship between traditional and new media, while providing a bridge not just between the two but also between practice and profit.

An exhaustive masterpiece, Writing for the Media and Monetising It is particularly an asset to aspiring or young journalists, with the author so much pampering the reader that he teaches them how to generate story ideas and topics, how to research them, and avoid libel; how to syndicate stories, how to evolve one’s own style and even how to occasionally shake the table (as the trendy saying goes), sparking ‘trouble’ with one’s writing – and how to manage the attendant controversy or battle. In other words, the 259-page work, beautifully published by Premium Times Books, is pretty good for all – students, teachers, editors, publishers and those who relate with them.

Its relevance can actually be smelt from the titles of the chapters. These include “Finding your Voice,” “Choosing your subject,” “Creating your style,” “Connecting with your audience,” “Stirring trouble without causing mayhem,” “Minding the law and managing feedback and trolls.” In the book, the reader will also learn about the business of syndication, using Artificial Intelligence (AI), without losing originality, and how to brand one’s content.

Many will enjoy “Writing for the Media and Monetising It,” as it is narrated in such a way that not only comes out beautifully, but also encourages easy, leisurely reading. As the facts unfold in the main plot, they roll into give-away tips and summaries that the writer punctuates all the chapters with, in the manner of a training manual seeking to prepare its inductees into a durable media relevance that equally unleashes money-making excellence.

Dreamers of breakthroughs in the new media business know how intriguing the phenomena of algorithms, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) etc. are. These are coupled with the difficulty in accessing the mindset of the tech giants who control the business – the likes of Google, Yahoo and Facebook. Those who have stayed long in the newsroom particularly find the concepts and the moods of the giants so slippery that they are often confused as they try to navigate online routes. But Ishiekwene has largely helped tame the issues as Writing for Media and Monetising It is contrived as a school of journalism, with emphasis on a monetisation curriculum. It speaks to innovative labour and reward. In this regard, Chapter 13 – titled “Making Money” – is a must-read as far as the commerce side of the media is concerned. Here, the writer painstakingly teaches the reader the nitty gritty of earning well as an online content producer. In dissecting ways of sharing tools for developing content, using data analytics as guides, and locking in the audience, Ishiekwene breaks down the process of monetising content.

Yet, the book is infused with interesting case studies involving some major Nigerian online newer media personalities and brands, such as Abdusalam Idris (Alhaji Beardless Smallie), who became a popular influencer by compiling stories and happenings that were trending and configuring them into threads on Twitter (X), and Tunde Oluwa Adekunle (Tunde Ednut), the content curator named the Most Searched Media Personality at the Net Honours Class of 2021. Also, there is Linda Ikeji, who has become a wealthy Banana Island-based blogger, even though she had started off by catching fun online as she whiled away time before converting her online passion into a huge money-making machine. Then, there is Seun Osewa, the founder of Nairaland, who has built a platform with enormous potential.

In Chapters 14 and 15, the book expands its grand narrative through the stories of select icons within the legacy media space in Nigeria and beyond, who the author engages in conversations around their professional worldview and practice. These include Pulitzer winning journalist, Dele Olojede; incisive columnist and scholar, Abimbola Adelakun; and the first female editor of The PUNCH newspaper, Toyosi Ogunseye. More so, there is the dialogue with the foremost scholar, historian and mentor, Professor Toyin Falola, and Tunde Odediran, presently a tech guru in the United States.

This effortlessly qualifies this great endeavour as a necessary toolbox and recommended text for media schools. The fact is that in this age in which the functional aspects of knowledge is being emphasised, as the necessity of marrying theoretical explorations with the entrepreneurship ken, thereby honing pathways for the future self-reliance of students, it will be invaluable to introduce “Writing for Media” into the Communications curricula of tertiary institutions in Nigeria and beyond.

Many will enjoy Writing for the Media and Monetising It, as it is narrated in such a way that not only comes out beautifully, but also encourages easy, leisurely reading. As the facts unfold in the main plot, they roll into give-away tips and summaries that the writer punctuates all the chapters with, in the manner of a training manual seeking to prepare its inductees into a durable media relevance that equally unleashes money-making excellence. This effortlessly qualifies this great endeavour as a necessary toolbox and recommended text for media schools. The fact is that in this age in which the functional aspects of knowledge is being emphasised, as the necessity of marrying theoretical explorations with the entrepreneurship ken, thereby honing pathways for the future self-reliance of students, it will be invaluable to introduce Writing for Media into the Communications curricula of tertiary institutions in Nigeria and beyond.

Overall, Writing for the Media and Monetising It is so phenomenal that subject experts such as the Chief Executive of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), also a veteran journalist, Dapo Olorunyomi; compelling columnist, Sonala Olumhese; and Professor Abiodun Adeniyi of the Mass Communication department at Base University, Abuja, all have glowing words for the book and its author.
Olorunyomi notes in the “Foreword” that, “The strength of this work lies in the wealth and mélange of resources from personalised accounts, anecdotes and rich references with the lessons and questions that cap each chapter. The personal testimonies of leading lights of the profession, across generational and gender divides, deserve commendation.” On his part, Olumhense writes that, “In this work, he (author) gives back to the Times and Seasons that fostered him by giving to the future: showing how to take your place in the bigger, bolder media, and be directly compensated for it.” And, for Adeniyi, Ishiekwene, “has built a needed intellectual and socioeconomic bridge to link journalists to the new broad world of limitless applications, adaptations, opportunities, entrepreneurship and empowerment.”
Indeed, Writing for the Media and Monetising It is a must-have for anyone who has got anything to do with the media.

– Akeem Lasisi is a notable journalist and performance artist.

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