“We wanted to create a digital-first newsroom that is fast, agile, and reader-centric,” said Frank Aigbogun, CEO and publisher at Business Day Nigeria. Aigbogun spoke at the INMA Africa Media Summit about how Business Day Nigeria has changed its newsroom into a data-driven newsroom that is capable of making a connection with its reader.

“In order to migrate from ad revenue to reader revenue we needed to create the connection between our journalism and the financial/commercial sustainability of the business and we needed to make our journalists understand that this was for a purpose and to improve the quality of their journalism practice and to ensure that we did that in a sustainable environment,” he said.

Aigbogun said that in order to drive that change in mindset amongst the journalists they first needed to understand the audience that they were serving. According to Aigbodgun, the audience in Nigeria is primarily young –  71% of the population in Nigeria is under 30 years old and most of them are online with an 87% mobile phone penetration and 99-million Nigerians are internet users (highest number of users in Africa and 10th in the world).

How did Business Day Nigeria do it? 
  • It created an agile team
  • It shifted from old deadlines to 24-hour-news cycle (produce 25-35 stories per day)
  • It focuses on data-driven storytelling
  • Incentivisation (drive improvement in stories through an available fund for reporters to bid/sell their story projects and those who win are given money to fund their stories)
  • Awards are given to the best stories
  • Continuous experimentation (it tends to shake up the newsroom)
  • Creating content for a paying audience
  • Developing multimedia skills (teams that can produce podcasts, and videos)
  • Encouraging collaboration amongst other newsrooms/outlets

Aigbogun said that as they are serving a paying audience, it became important for the journalists to ask themselves, “is anyone reading my story, and if people are reading my story how many are reading it and finally is anyone going to pay for my story.” He admitted that the change was not easy and it came with its challenges and required continuous experimentation, with some journalists struggling to adapt to the new environment and were subsequently encouraged to leave the organisation. “We brought in young people who were not stuck in the old way of doing things which led to the creation of the graduate training programme,” said Aigbogun.

“We have seen significant transformation in our newsroom, adoption of technology and new practices. It is all about telling stories better and about telling better stories,” said Aigbogun.

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