Friday, 9 December 2016

Help! The print media is on life support machine— Funke Egbemode + Secret of her 27 Years success in journalism

By on 01:24
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Mrs. Funke Egbemode, MD/Editor-In-Chief, The New Telegraph Newspaper

Funke Egbemode is a damn good professional. She is one of the very best media managers in Nigeria, today. She started her 27 years career as a Reporter and worked her way to the very top of her career. She is today the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of Daily Telegraph Publishing Limited, publishers of New Telegraph Newspaper. Many Nigerians don’t know she was born in Ijabe, Osun State (South Western Nigeria) and attended Baptist Practising Primary School, Iwo, Baptist Girls High School, Osogbo and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.  She graduated in 1988 and holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism from Nigeria Institute of Journalism, Lagos.
Egbemode started her career as a staff writter in the defunct Prime People Magazine before moving to The Punch in 1993 where she rose to become Deputy Features Editor. Since then, she has been Associate Editor, (Thisday Newspaper), Editor, (The Independent). She is the immediate past Editor of Sunday SUN newspaper. Egbemode has also served in the public sector as the Assistant Press Secretary at the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC under the tenure of  Otunba Segun Runsewe. Special Adviser (Media) to first Nigerian female Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Barrister Olubunmi Etteh and was a member of the Board of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN. A renowned writer and columnist, Egbemode is the author of Intimate Affairs and Conversation with my Country. That she is good and competent can be observed in how this naturally beautiful and sexy lady juggles all her roles. She is the current President of The Guild of Editors. She has been a long standing Newspaper columnist, writing on burning issues. And she is usually very lucid in her writings .

She is engaging too, and she writes so well. She is a single mother who became a widow years back when she lost her husband. How does Funke juggle and balance out all these roles effortlessly? These and many more were the questions City People  magazine Publisher, Dr. SEYE KEHINDE and Senior Reporter Mr. ISAAC ABIMBADE asked the stylish lady of substance who has a rich knowledge of not only media management but public policy. Mrs. Funke Egbemode is the President of the Nigeria’s Guild of Editors. She took over from Mr. Femi Adesina who is now Spokesman to Nigeria’s President Muhammad Buhari.
Your Africa’s Number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog, Asabeafrika brings you full details of the interview for your maximum enjoyment. Enjoy the excerpts.

How do you juggle all your roles as President of The Guild of Editors, MD of The New Telegraph, a columnist and a mother? 
Funke Egbemode....In a sober mood over systemic misfortune of Print Media business in Nigeria
It is tough. There are days I wake up and I am wondering; how am I going to get through the day. My To-Do-List is now so long. Just the thought of the list does not want to make me get out of bed. But I have divided my 7 days of the week in such a way I split my duties as a columnist, MD of Telegraph and President of The Guild. The one that I cannot delegate is the single mum part. The duties of a single mum you cannot postpone or delegate. It is always on the To-Do-List.  And you have to do it. The only advantage is ‘ok, the kids have grown up’ but I still have an undergraduate in school. So, I just decided on what to do on the different days. I could decide today, I am looking at the accounts of The Guild. Another day, I could decide to do approvals for The Guild. The Guild’s responsibility is one thing I can’t joke with. It’s huge. I got so much supports to get there. I do not want to let my colleagues down. The Pressure of not wanting to let people down is there. I just draw up a To-Do-List like on Monday, I can’t do anything else aside the job of The New Telegraph. No outside event except it is such that brings money to The New Telegraph. When I travel outside Lagos to Awka or Asaba, Abuja, I use those extra hours to take a breather to reflect on what I have done or what I have not done. So, I try to catch up all the time. Most of the time, I am just playing ‘catch up’.
Funke Egbemode....Has a Big Heart full with Huge Plans for The Guild of Editors
What are your plans for The Guild?
My predecessors have done a lot, like The Guild of Editor’s House that was commissioned recently. They started it. We just went ahead with the scissors and ribbon to cut the tape and commissioned the house. That is our first in 55 years. With this excos, I want to put in place a Guild of Editors House that will be a reference point and a Resource Center. We are going to raise money to furnish the place to the taste of Editors. We want editors to be able to come in there and use wifi, read up on this, research this, make calls. We want the Editor’s house to be a Resource Center. We want it to be a place where people can relax. We want it to be a place where people can go on Saturday morning and exercise like Gym. If you are stuck in traffic, you can go there to play Monopoly for 1 or 2 hours. Somewhere Editors can let their heads down, somewhere they can decide to work or watch football or play scrabble with other colleagues. Then, I am worried with what usually happens to editors when they leave the seat within 6 months, they are broke. It is not because they do not know how to manage money. Ours is not a paying job like that, but we put in everything. Our job has a way of making you engrossed and consumed. Before you know it, your Monday has become Sunday. It is a headline business. You juggle so many things on a daily basis and before you know it, you have become Editor for 10 years.  That is why The Guild gets request for help. If the Lord allows it, I want to put something together to guide Editors for life after the chair. If that is the only thing that I do, that is what I want to leave behind as legacy. That in these 2 years, editors will be able to say in these 2 years of Funke Egbemode being president of The Guild, I have been able to access funds. I have been able to buy property or set up a farm, or start a small scale business or I have been able to write books or launch their thoughts. Those who write columns should turn their columns into books. What they churn out in a year is more than what a Professor churns out in 2 to 3 years. Newspaper is history in a hurry. I want to get our Editors to harness what they have to be able to prepare for the future and to ensure that you stay a professional without ending up a pauper.
What is the state of the industry today?
Funke Egbemode....She lacks the right word to describe the present state of the Nigerian Print Media Industry
I can’t find the right word for the state of the industry. I started journalism in 1989 and I haven’t seen anything like this before until now. I never thought journalism will get to this point, where everybody is handicapped. On copy sales, you are handicapped. Advert wise, you are handicapped. Everything seems to be going to the dogs; it is like media industry today is on oxygen, on life support. We need to do something urgently, otherwise the industry will die. All our consumables are imported meaning that we have to deal with dollars. So, if you are holding naira you can’t even get enough dollars to buy newsprint, to buy plate, to buy ink, and then, when you put all of that together, you will find that there are some people googling your stories for free. There are advertisers telling you, they want 40% commission upfront, instead of the between 10% and 25% they were gladly accepting before, because they are broke too. They have cut media budget. Nothing is the way it used to be. And I fear for tomorrow, I truly fear for tomorrow.
How do you cope in all of these?
Funke Egbemode....The Columnist, The News Woman & The Single Mother
As MD of New Telegraph, we just keep finding ways to negotiate every month. We have had plenty of support from the parent company, The SUN. But there is just so much you can tell the parent to do, especially when it thinks that the baby ought to be up and running. So, we need to continue to find creative ways, we negotiate discounts. Instead of turning down adverts, we give generous discounts, more generous than before; I drive my team to do more. Fortunately, I have a good team. So, it is not as though as it will be if you don’t have a good team. From top to bottom up, I have a great team.
How do you cope with the onslaught of social media? Did you take them seriously at first?
A very stylish News damsel, Funke Egbemode
Hmmm! At first, I didn’t take them seriously, and then I started taking them seriously.  Then, I also noticed that, just like in every business, the bad eggs are also ruining the good guys online. And then, I realized this is an open market, so, let’s go there and play. So, we are playing online too. And I believe nobody should leave the online business to those who are not professionals and say some people are online journalists. We are the journalists. We are the people that went to school to study journalism and its practice and we have been here for a long time. So, unless the person is coming from us on this side and going there, all the stage is ours. Nobody should say some people are online journalists. You are either a journalist or you are not. So, since we are the people trained to do it, we should go there and play. That is what we are doing here. Now, we have Online Telegraph that we sell on e-rending. So, you can buy New Telegraph online for N50.
Do you think online will kill the print version?
The Very Pretty Media Icon, Funke Egbemode....'The State of Print Media baffles her now'
No; because if the online would kill the print, it would have done so since. As we are suffering, they are also suffering. The only thing is, they have a newspaper without a newsroom. And their costs are lower. We are going to be there forever. So, we would go online and play there. If the online people want to come and play in our market, they are also welcome to attempt. There are papers that are 200 years old and they are still there.

Gbenga Dan Asabe

Africa's Number One Celebrity Encounter Blog


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