Mannir Dan-Ali, the Editor-In-Chief of Media Trust, the largest newspaper company in Northern Nigeria and publisher of Daily Trust, said the media house is eager to use the lessons from the COVID-19-induced lockdown to improve its operations.
What special measures, if any, has Media Trust taken to protect its staff from Coronavirus?
We cut down the number of staff coming to the office so that most non-journalists do not come to the office.
Only line editors and those on the health desk and a few others come to the office; others operate from home.
Hand sanitisers and face masks are provided for those coming to work and there is temperature check at the gate with more frequent cleaning of surfaces.
Has any staff, especially journalists who have to go out daily, been exposed in the line of duty?
So far none of our staff has been infected though they may have been exposed unknowingly.
Lockdowns and restriction in movement mean that newspaper copy sales have taken a hit. How many copies have you lost compared with pre-lockdown sales?
We have had over 50 per cent hit on the copies we sell. (Nigerian newspapers don’t publicly discuss their sales, but Trust is believed to sell about 15,000 copies daily, though the print run is much higher)
You print in multiple locations daily. Have you maintained this system during the lockdown?
We stopped printing in our Maiduguri plant because of their total lockdown meaning the press there cannot serve the whole of the North East.
Beginning from today (April 30) we have also suspended printing in Kano to safeguard the health of our staff there.
Kano and the Northwest is now supplied from our Abuja press. That also supplies the North Central.
Our Lagos press is also continuing to print, meaning that two of our four presses are not printing now.
Are you likely to review pre-existing bulk advert contracts for print, especially those that may have been significantly under-exposed as a result of the lockdown?
Only one of our several bulk advertising deals has requested for a freeze in publication. All others are going ahead.
How has Trust adapted and what are the two big lessons learned so far?
We led the print market in cutting pagination because of reduced advertising. We remain clear, however, that no matter what we have to continue to provide more credible information to our readers. We are accelerating some of our digital plans. This includes subscription for e-copies that we hope will surge after offering a free one month period to readers.