Focus on historical and political development

The publisher’s representative notes that Alaroye is the only newspaper in Nigeria that traces the nation’s political history as a way of educating and engaging those who were not born when those events happened, and refreshing the memory of those who lived those experiences. With its column on ‘Ijoba Soja’ (military government), the newspaper raises awareness about past military regimes and events of those periods that shaped the development of the country. Here, the publisher’s representative elaborates on how Alaroye does this:

Look at a story of Alaafin of Oyo which no newspaper has ever done and we started the story' in a series - what he went through before he became king, which we published when he had his seventy-eighth birthday, and how he was selected, people that supported him and the factors that led to his emergence. Also, we published other Yoruba stories, and what is happening in Yoruba land today is more or less like the era of Awolowo and Akintola, so we are trying as much as possible to bring those stories back - the political, serial rule that people did not even know happened and how a section of this country sold the entire nation.

(Interview with publisher’s representative, 12 January 2019)

Future online publication

The newspaper says that when the rush for online publication started, Alaroye did not participate because online publication is one of the factors affecting the English newspapers. The publisher’s representative notes that buying data adds to the cost of communication, and going online allows readers to get all the stories from all newspapers; thus, they do not have a good reason to buy hard copies, which is one of the challenges facing the publications. However, he notes that Alaroye's website was under construction, and the person in charge was working on it as the newspaper was planning to also start its online publication soon.

Separation from politicking

The newspaper has also been able to avoid the murky waters of politics, which affect virtually everything about media practice in Nigeria. The representative reveals that established newspapers have their networks in government across levels because of the adverts and jingles and sponsorships that they get. He opines that, because of Alaroye’s commitment to political neutrality, the ruling government is not interested in working with the newspaper. Therefore, where other newspapers get some financial benefits with unwritten and unethical compromises attached, Alaroye stays at a distance to watch and maintain its hold on truth and impartiality. This endears it to its readers as it is seen as the defender of truth and the masses. Here is the opinion of the representative on this:

Recently, when they were setting up their committee for political campaigns, Alaroye was not considered as a medium because the paper is seen as antigovernment. Public officials prefer to go to Radio Lagos, which they know will cover everything and they forget that, when you listen to something on the radio, it is not permanent. Because of the hatred they have for us, saying we don’t support them, this newspaper is clearly out of consideration when government is planning to do a media campaign. There is no way we will change our stand on saying the truth and maintaining political neutrality; when you see something that is truthful and doesn’t support falsehood, say it the way you see it and the way you feel it should be. We don’t have anything to do with the opposition party (PDP); we don’t collect anything from any party.

(Interview with publisher’s representative, 12 January 2019)

This stance accentuates the call on stakeholders to strengthen the third level of media ownership in Nigeria (i.e. community ownership apart from government and private ownership) to reduce government’s undue interference in media operations and promote the sanctity of the media profession.

Reduced price

Alaroye is also staying in circulation because of its consideration or feeling for its readers. The publisher’s representative observes that the publisher understands and respects the economic and social characteristics of the newspaper’s readers. He advises anybody interested in establishing indigenous language newspapers as a large commercial interest with a profit motive never to venture into such a business. This is because, apart from the associated challenges of publishing in such an endangered language and competing with English language newspapers in Nigeria, affordability is a big problem for publishers of indigenous language newspapers. Therefore, Alaroye uses a reduced cover price as a strategy to gain enough market share, blend with the economic realities of its active and potential readers and stay afloat. He has this to say:

For any individuals that want to establish or publish in Yoruba with the mind that they are coming because of money, they should not bother to come because news printing generally is not profit-generation friendly. That is why some newspapers are compromising to make ends meet. The cover price of Alaroye is not that profitable, but we have to consider the economic power of our readers as well; we have to bring it down to the extent that they would be able to afford what we are producing. When you are a publisher and you don’t know about what you want to publish or you do not have a good experience of that terrain or industry, your employees will destroy everything.

(Interview with publisher’s representative, 12 January 2019)

Conclusion

There is no gainsaying the fact that Alaroye, like many other indigenous language newspapers in Africa, operates within an environment that makes survival an extremely arduous effort. While the economic conditions that afflict the print media industry generally continue to make life more difficult for the publication and its promoters, the stiff competition coming from foreign language media increases the risk of jeopardy, thereby necessitating the deployment of a combination of strategies for the sustenance of the medium. This research has identified a commitment to the survival of Yoruba cultural materiality as one major motivation for keeping the newspaper in circulation. To achieve such an objective, the publishers have also deployed several other skills and strategies (in agreement with the positions of Newell et al. 2008; Randle 2003; Dimmick, Kline, and Stafford 2000) that have helped the medium to survive the harsh realities that continuously drive indigenous language print media into oblivion. These strategies enumerated in this paper are worth noting because of their implications for practice and further research.

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