Who still buys newspapers?
Adeyinka Akintunde writes on the declining fortunes of newspapers due to mainly the internet and the dire Â economic situation in the country.
Until recently, Justice Ugochukuwu Ogakwu of the Court of Appeal always took pride in reading copies of two newspapers he buys daily and draws the attention of his wife to some supposed major news items he read.
His assumption was that since he doesnâ€™t see his wife reading newspapers like him, he gets to know about reported issues before the wife and he is better informed.
He soon found out he was wrong as the wife told him most of the news items he read in the newspapers were stale information she had read the previous day online on various platforms.
Before long, he stopped buying the papers and joined his wife and many others who now prefer to read newspaper content on their websites.
â€śIf I can get to read the news and other issues I read in the papers the next day after they have been reported online, I didnâ€™t see the reason to continue to buy the papers except once in a while,â€ť Justice Ogakwu disclosed while speaking at a seminar by National Association of Judicial Correspondents (NAJUC) in July.
Justice Ogakwu is one of many others who have stopped buying newspapers daily.
Unlike before when national newspapers in the country could boast of selling thousands of copies, circulation figures have dropped drastically due to free and prompt content available online and other factors.
Though there is still the belief that there are many people who are addicted to the hard-copy of newspapers, some others blamed the harsh economy for the low sale of newspapers.
Although sales figures are not available, but every indication is that newspapers are today selling a fraction of what they used to sell. Some vendors who spoke with Media Career gave an insight on what their experience has been in recent years.
A vendor in Oshodi-Apapa, Lagos Asisat Bello confirmed the worrisome decrease in newspaper sales based on the copies he now collects from distributors and sells.
“For me, I used the collect twenty copies of The Punch, ten copies of The Nation and five copies of The Sun, but now I only collect five copies of each papers, hoping to sell them all, because it is not always the case that I sell all the papers”
Another vendor Kunle Oyedele said “things are not the same as before. Sales have dropped with the sales of hard-copy newspapers. It is only those that have advert or companies that come to buy the papers these days”
Stephen Isaiah said the few people that buy newspapers these days “buy it for documentation purposes.â€ť
â€śSome buy to keep, as they might need it for future reference, which is something the internet might not be able to do. Companies also buy because of news or adverts that they have placed in newspapers.”
According to Isaiah there may be need to “stop the publication of news online so that the local vendors can make sales is relative.
A vendor, who simply gave her name as Doris, blamed the economic hardship in the country for the fall in the sale of print copies. “The increase in price of newspapers is also affecting the sales. Newspapers that used to sell for as low as one hundred and fifty naira is now two hundred naira for weekday and two hundred and fifty naira on weekends.”
“Before I used to collect five copies for each paper (This Day, Guardian, Punch, The Nation, The Sun, and others), but now I collect only one copy for each paper, because selling five copies can be difficult, and The Punch would not collect any leftover I have.Â This will lead to a shortage of income for me. So I don’t collect Punch newspapers again. I will just support myself with selling magazines and other books”
A newspaper distributor in Oshodi, who gave his name as Femo Agency, also agreed that online newspapers are gradually displacing the hard copies.
“You cannot compare the sale of newspapers about twenty years ago, to the sale of papers today. About that time, one newspaper cost fifty naira, but between 1999 and now, it increased to 200 naira daily, 250 naira on Saturdays and 400 naira on Sundays (for ThisDay and Guardian). However even with these increase in the price of papers, there are still people that buy them. But the truth is that with online papers, the sale of hard-copy ones have dropped.
Emmanuel Okafor, another vendor noted that “only the old people, or those who have no access to the internet buy newspapers these days, and it is worrisome. If sales continue for me like this, I might have to look for another business.”
Elder Richard Emohe, who spoke with Media Career at a newspaper stand said “people don’t buy newspapers again. If you see people gather together at the newspaper stand these days, it is just to discuss or argue about things that are happening around us, maybe in politics, entertainment or sports.
â€śPeople hardly buy papers again. They read from the comfort of their beds on their phones and gadgets, because the same information that is in the hard-copy paper is the same information that is online.”
Kehinde Alayade, said “People go online because to them reading online is cheaper than buying the hard-copy. For someone that is not too conversant with the internet like me, we might prefer to read the hard-copy.â€ť
However, speaking in support of the print copy, a buyer Akinyemi Adebayo said “Nigerians are always in a hurry, so for me, they would prefer to come to the stands and just see the headlines of newspapers and go away. It is difficult for an average Nigerian today to sit down and read, so sitting down to read online papers can be tasking.
“Those that might want to read the online papers would prefer to read sports sites like Goal.com and BBC Sports. I also believe that documentation makes the hard-copy papers better than the online ones.”
When asked was motivates him to buy the newspapers he was buying, he said “it is because I placed an advert for a change of name, which I need to take to where I will use it. Secondly, there are times when I place advert in the papers, which I need the general public to know about, and this is something that the online newspapers may not be able to publish.”
Yusuf Olawale however believes that the hard-copy newspaper is still better than online papers for record purposes. “I still believe that the hard-copy newspaper is better than the online newspaper, because it keeps record. Online can vanish in matter of hours, but the hard-copy papers remain.”
Sales manager of Business Day newspaper, Owobe Lucky, on his part, called for sensitization and awareness, if people are to continue to buy the hard-copy newspapers again. “The introduction of technology has adversely affected the sale of hard-copy newspapers. Most people would say that they have read the papers online, but despite that, there are still some people who cannot do without buying the hard-copy .â€ť
â€śHowever, I believe that the hard-copy paper still has the advantage of making references over online papers. People can buy the papers for keeps or to be used on another date. Again, adverts and Job vacancies are some reasons people buy newspapers.
â€śTo me, if we must go back to the way things were before the internet age came, there must be sensitization. People should be sensitized about the need to buy newspaper. Â Again, the reading culture of people should be encouraged. This, to me would make people buy papers again.” Owebe said.
Another reason why people read online newspaper according to him is the harsh economy of the country. “Is it workers who are being owed six to seven months salary in some states, are the ones that would be buying newspapers? If you go to the stands, you just see people who want Â to read the newspaper for free.?”