COVID-19: Dwindling sales may shape future of print newspapers in Nigeria


Although coronavirus has affected business operations across the world, the impact on print media is massive! It has put the industry in a tight corner amidst high running costs while circulation and advert sales are collapsing. More of their audiences have also moved to online platforms, thereby threatening the existence of newspaper publishers. In a quick poll conducted by Dataphyte on social media, 5.7% of the participants on Twitter buy newspapers daily, an incredible small faction compared to 61.1% who never buys a newspaper.

According to the survey, 3.1% buy newspapers once a week, while 30.3% rarely buy. 778 people participated in the Twitter poll.

On Instagram, all of the participants voted ‘never’ – meaning they never buy a newspaper. The quick impact survey seeks to better understand how frequently social media users buy print newspapers in Nigeria.

What the poll tell us

The short poll paints the ugly dilemma facing newspaper publishers in the media industry. These are loss in revenue, more people embracing online media, and new life order from COVID-19 crisis. Recently, sales from government and private establishments have significantly reduced as offices closed.

With the new order of life, digital media get a boost. Although most print newspaper publishers have also embraced online publications, the operational cost of the other component – print – still overshadows the online revenue. From the poll, out of 778 people, only 45 buy a newspaper every day, while about 24 buy once a week.

Will the print media die a natural death?

In 2015, Orji Uzor Kalu, the publisher of Daily Sun and New Telegraph, expressed worry over the high cost of printing newspapers in Nigeria. He had put the average cost of printing a copy of a newspaper at N500. In Nigeria, a newspaper sells between N200 and N300 depending on acceptability. The business model of most newspaper outlets are not sustaining and cannot stand the present economic shock.

As COVID-19 hits the world, some newspaper outlets have stopped printing and reverted to digital-only publication, according to a report by The Guardian. Local newspapers have started counting losses in advertising sales due to coronavirus. Industry experts have predicted that this may lead to massive lay-off and closing of major titles across the globe.

Experts call for innovation in print media

Mr. Lekan Otufodurin, the Executive Director, Media Career Development Network, says the media is going through a lot of disruption. He tells Dataphyte Nigeria that digital platforms are already suppressing everything print media. Speaking on Dataphyte online poll, Mr. Otufodurin says he is not surprised about the outcome of the poll, although some of the participants may be tech-savvy who don’t fancy hard copy.

Predicting the future of print media, he says some big media houses will disappear if they refuse to innovate. The media expert with over 30 years of experience in print media suggested that media houses can complement operations. – operating print and multimedia. Also, media houses should do away with the huge number of staff and retrain their journalists for the future.

“Despite the challenges with the print media, I don’t think the traditional print newspaper will totally fade away. “However, they will continue to face a lot of challenges with the way the media transcends the digital space every minute. No one buys newspapers again despite the fact that they print very little. But everyone has a phone and data connection to read information online,” Mr. Taiwo Adebulu, a reporter at The Cable explains.

Mr. Adebulu suggests publishers revamp their business models and go with current realities. “The world is digital…yet I believe printing will still be around for long even as technology advances.”


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