By Odufote Kanyinsola
As part of our industry experience and education – a sort of town meeting the gown – the Department of Mass Communication decided to organize a visit for students of the Department of Mass Communication to visit some media establishments in Lagos.
On December 5, 2023, we were privileged to attend a facility tour at Punch (Newspapers) Nigeria Limited. We were greeted by Bukola Adebayo and given an orientation about what and what not do in some sections of the establishment. The Chief Research Officer of the company, Ademola Adeola, gave us a brief history of the newspaper.
According to him, “The Punch was founded by the late Chief James Aboderin, an accountant, and Sam Amuka, a columnist and editor at the Daily Times of Nigeria. Amuka became the first editor of the Sunday Punch. In November 1976, a few years after the first print of its Sunday edition, the duo started printing their trademark daily newspaper. Both editions were designed to favour a friendlier, apolitical approach to news reporting, combining footage of social events with everyday political news.
“In 1971, the company made its debut with the publication of Happy Home, a glossy, family-oriented magazine. Its first editor was Bunmi Sofola. On Sunday, March 18, 1973, its first weekly newspaper, Sunday Punch hits the newsstand. The first editor was Ajibade Fashina Thomas. The newspaper was designed to give our country a unique Sunday paper that combines the best in serious and popular journalism with refreshing information and entertainment.
“On November 1, 1976, the daily tabloid, The Punch, was born. Designed as a lively paper for lively minds”, it was to address most of the shortcomings and inadequacies of the established Nigerian newspapers. Its pioneer editor was Dayo Wright.
The company has a board of directors which is its highest policy-making organ. The current chairman of the board is Mrs. Angela Emuwa. The company’s policies and directives are implemented by a management team led by the managing director and Editor-in-Chief. The current Managing Director is Mr. Joseph Adeyeye. Though a corporate business entity which exists to make profit, it promotes and defends the values of democracy while contributing to the economic development of the country.”
The Metro Editor, Joel Nwokeoma, asked about our perception about journalists. In response to some of the views of the students, he said “Perception makes individual preference and its relative”. He said the new generation, think journalism is a venture that has no future benefits but what we fail to see is that journalism is a venture that has a lot of benefits. He said he has been in the profession for 20 years and has been working at Punch for 14 years now and he can testify that the profession has benefits in the long run.
“The perception that journalists work around the clock and are underpaid is false, we at The Punch are paid well and provided with independence, skills and training for our works”. He took us to the newsroom and explained to us the inner workings of the newsroom. The reporters go to the field to get news according from their beats to create a narrative and these narratives must be compelling and submitted to the Editor who reviews them for publication. The content of the newspaper is what is sold, it’s the price that makes the news but the content in its covers.
How news is produced
Agboola Bakare, a Page Planner gave the students an overview of how the pages of newspapers are carefully planned. After the reporter or correspondent goes out to the field to source for the news, he or she gathers the news and submits it to the editor who passes it to the page planner and the page planner plans the pages of the paper. They decide the design of the pages. Mr. Joshua, Senior, Pre-Press Manager, does the analysis of picture, page, and advert quality in page preparation. He designs the overall view of the papers in places with the in-house colour. After this he sends it to the raster image procession.,“There are two types of plate, tamer and VHM plate and these plate are kept in the dark room. All the process happens online and offline. Chemical, water, gum preserves and the plate goes into heat. Gum makes the image stick.
The final step was the printing, we were introduced to Engineer Akanni, who is in charge of printing. Punch has the biggest printing system in Africa; it is Universal 75 machine, which prints 75,000 copies in one hour. They have nine printer towers and one folder (folds the web, newsprint). Offset printing machine because the cylinders, the plate is then mounted in the cylinder which is then transformed into an inked image and transferred to the blanket on the printing surface. All the papers are transported to the packaging room and then it is wrapped and distributed to transport department. The wasted or damaged papers are the sold to toilet roll manufacturing companies.
The last place we visited was the broadcast section of the establishment. It was a shock for us to find a broadcast section in a newspaper organization. It was then I remember the lecture about media convergence, the world of media has melted and no visible line of demarcation again as the print, electronic and online have all converged. I now understand better the idea of media convergence. We got to see some of the equipment used in production and learned how the equipment work. The multi-streaming audio console, sub monitor, VJI console, V-Mix (Visual or Video mixing programme) and many other equipment are used in information dissemination. This was by far the best place in the establishment and what stood out for me was the good reception accorded us by the workers, they were entertaining and accommodating.
The visit to Punch has to be one of the best trips I have had so far in Trinity University; this is because I was privileged to talk to some of leading figures in the media industry, I also saw a step-by-step process of how newspapers are produced. It was a thrilling experience and I would love to visit again in the near future.
* Odufote is a 300-level student of Mass Communication at Trinity University Yaba, Lagos.