There is Only One The Telegraph Newspaper– Bolaji Tunji
In this Exclusive interview with SULAIMON MOJEED-SANNI, the Managing Director of The Telegraph Newspaper, Bolaji Tunji, explains the scope of the newspaper, the challenges posed by social media, the influence of its Publisher and an impending battle with a sister medium that shares the same name and acronym with The Telegraph, excerpt;
What can we says is the scope of The Telegraph?
Well, as a newspaper, we believe there is a gap in the industry that we are expected to fill especially to give people what they wanted to read. As a newspaper we want to be the most authoritative in the reportage of news, politics, business, sport and so on. We want to report issues the way it has never been reported before. We want people to see The Telegraphy as a Bible of news, such that if you don’t read The Telegraph in a day, you have not read any newspaper. The printing we would be doing is going to be inclusive and interesting and comprehensive, once you read a copy of The Telegraph, you don’t need to read any other newspaper for the day.
With the array of Newspaper we have already, do you see The Telegraph surviving?
Yes the space is there for it to survive. What is the population of the country about 160 million, what is the current distribution of all the newspaper put together, they are barely printing up to 20 million. What’s their distribution strength, take The Punch, The Guardian; The Sun is still the most highly circulated in the country today, followed by The Punch, The Nation and other papers. The circulation is still very low compared to the population of the country. So, we believe there is till space for us. And it is also about giving people what they want, if you do that, we can be sure of surviving.
The social media has reduced the patronage for newspaper and causing newspaper mortality, how does your newspaper intend to survive?
You see, the new media is not something we can wish away, it is already here with us, any paper that wants to survive must factor it in, that is why you see must of the newspapers having twitter accounts, Blackberry and iPad applications, facebook to allow for easy access to their news and compliment their hard copies. Any newspaper that wants to thrive must take into consideration that the new media is there. It has to be married together to survive. Again, we have to understand that not every region has access to internet like Lagos and Abuja, not everybody has access to the new media in the hinterlands. Lots of people would still prefer to have the hard copy instead of reading on ipad or phone. So, there is still room for the hard publication. We have to also realise that, the hard publication is a source of record, people still prefer to have it. We must understand that Nigeria is still a country that is evolving, it is going to take time before we can wish away the hard copies of our newspapers.
When are we expecting The Telegraph on the news stands?
We are already doing our preparation, putting our templates in place, putting structures in place, going on retreats, talking to the necessary people, mapping out strategies, so by middle of January we should be out. For a newspaper to survive, things have to be in place, plans must be adequate and that’s what we are doing presently.
There is a newspaper in circulation with the name Today’s Telegraph(TT), and now we have The Telegraph(TT), don’t you think there would be confusion over the names?
I don’t think there is any problem, we are The Telegraph, I don’t even want to recognise that there is a paper with the name telegraph, ours is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission ever since the publisher conceived of have a newspaper the name has been registered. And the registration is over five years. We are duly registered, this is an issue that can be verified. This is not a paper that was hurriedly put together by somebody to be a spoiler, I don’t recognise any other paper except The Telegraph.
How can you say you don’t recognise a newspaper already in circulation and yours is yet to reach the news stands?
Before you come out with a publication, it needs to be registered, The Telegraph was registered over five years ago, when did Today’s Telegraph registered theirs? This is a question that needs to be asked. We registered as Daily Telegraph Publishing Company, when we were about to commence operation, we confirmed the status of registration in CAC, and it was still there, so can somebody claim a registered name?
Don’t you think the image of former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, as the publisher of The Sun newspaper now The Telegraph, would affect the perception and reception the newspaper would get in the eyes of the public?
I don’t think so, the market The Sun is operating would be different from that of The Telegraph. Our market would be the elite market, so it is different. It is also about quality, forget the fact that Orji Kalu owns the medium, see it has a business, other papers are coming up and they are have their markets. Kalu is just sponsoring the project, this paper is not in contest with The Sun. The Telegraph consists of a group of journalist who came together to revolutionalize news reportage.
You made mention of The Telegraph as a paper for the elites in the society, does that mean it is only for the Bourgeois?
I don’t want us to say bourgeois, but The Telegraph is a paper looking to serve the elites in the society, we are looking at the market of those who are decision makers in the country, we want to give them what is missing in news reportage.
How do you intend to balance your distribution to reach target audience?
The fact remains that for a newspaper to compete favourably, you need to do simultaneous printing. We have discussed with Punch Newspaper, the only problem with the printing of Punch is that it is limited, restricted to Lagos. We have discussed with The Sun newspaper and if you look at The Sun, it has a press in Lagos, Aba, Abuja and they are considering another one to make it four. So, once we have a sound agreement with them, we use them. We would be starting out as a weekly paper before we go daily.
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