*Challenged to practice robust journalism as Google, Obaigbena, Corporates, others endorse
The Online Publishers Association of Nigeria (OPAN) on Thursday had its formal launching ceremony with endorsements from world’s number one search engine firm, Google, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, Publisher of Nigeria’s foremost newspaper ThisDay and Chairman, Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), state governments and corporate Nigeria.
At the formal launch, OPAN and its members pledged a self-regulated, process-driven, credible, reliable and a well-structured Nigerian online publishing space.
Hosted at the Protea Hotel, Westwood Ikoyi, the event brought together stakeholders from the public and private sectors who were eager to witness a new phase of online publishing in Nigeria.
In his opening remarks the President of the OPAN, Mr. Olufemi Awoyemi noted that with the increase in internet penetration in Nigeria, there has been an upsurge in online publishing.
Speaking on “Imperatives for Standards” Mr. Awoyemi shared that online publishing is the process of publishing original content, following the best practices of journalism.
He asserted that the obvious issue in online publishing is balancing “free expression” with the “ethos of journalism”.
The OPAN President assured stakeholders that the body will bring to Nigeria, the online publishing ecosystem with global best practices.
Giving her keynote address, the Country Manager for Google Nigeria, Mrs. Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor believed the digital space afforded online publishers more opportunities than challenges, talking on ‘creativity in a digital age’. She identified the fact that through the online space, civic participation in Nigeria has increased remarkably, citing the 2015 general elections example.
Chiazor, however, made a bold statement stating, “Any publisher that does not have an online presence, risks losing relevance”.
From the Google side, the Nigerian Country Manager hinted stakeholders that its “AdSense” tool offered online publishers an opportunity, to monetize their work.
In his special message at the occasion, Mr. Obaigbena, lauded OPAN on it launch, but urged online publishers to distinguish themselves as journalists, following the path of transparency, fairness and truth.
In his address entitled “Positioning Nigeria’s Online Publishing for Global Reckoning” the foremost Publisher expressed his delight at associating with OPAN, according to him, the internet is a mass communications platform with members of the association realizing that they are Journalists and must go back to old traditional ways of doing journalism which includes investigative journalism and facts checking before publishing.
“You go back to the old fashion way of doing journalism, check your facts and write the truth. So, if you publish the truth, if you publish facts, if you set the right agenda, then you build the right brand online and if you build the right brand, you will get currency, you will get audiences, and it is those audiences that you monetize. So, you do a great business, essentially, I urge you to all return to that age old virtuous of journalism,” he said.
Obaigbena reminded OPAN members not to forget the purpose of the online space, which is all about journalism and the media.
On his part, Mr. Charles Aigbe, Divisional Head, Marketing and Corporate Relations, UBA Group, in his paper entitled “Reporting with Credibility-Building Value & Trust with Stakeholders” advised members on the need for a fair and balanced reporting system that can impact the society positively.
Others present at the launch, were the former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi; Mr. Ahmad Sajoh, Commissioner of Information, Adamawa State; Honourable Ossai Nicholas Ossai, Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Ethics; Mr. Anthony Chiejina, Group Head, Corporate Communications at Dangote Group, who represented Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Chairman of the Dangote Group; Ovation publisher, Mr. Dele Momodu; Mrs. Folake Ani-Mumuney, who represented First Bank Group; Mr. Ufot Essien, who represented Zenith Bank Plc; Mrs. Bunmi Onyiola; representatives of the governors and governments of Delta, Ogun, Abia and Anambra States amongst several others.
OPAN Vice President 1, Prince Austyn Ogannah, Vice President II, Mr. Emmanuel Asiwe and Mr. Daniel Elombah anchored the ceremony, which started at 10.30am and closed at 2.pm.
OPAN is modelled after international standards and affiliations; with specific deliverables to meet the needs of the Nigerian market. It desires to deliver a web-based ‘self-regulatory’ service that is founded on global best practice.
The mission of OPAN is to advance the policies of high-quality online publishers before the Advertising Community, Corporate Organisations, the Press, Governments and the public.
OPAN will help provide some level of high standard reporting online and will serve to help its members fairly compete in the marketplace for advertising services, online crisis/issues management for both corporate & individuals and will act as a voice so that online users clearly understand the benefits that quality publishers provide to the public discourse.