As Premium Times Publisher holds audience spell-bound

The Publisher of Nigeria’s leading on-line newspaper, Premium Times, Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi,  literally ‘revived’ the founding Head of the Department of Mass Communication, University of Ilorin, the late Doyin Mahmoud, last Thursday (July 12, 2018) at a memorial lecture in honour of the late veteran journalist and journalism teacher.

The 9th Doyin Mahmoud Memorial Lecture, which held at the Main Auditorium, was organised by the Department of Mass Communication, Faculty of Communication and Information Sciences.  

The late Mahmoud, who died in active service in 2009, was a former Editor of The Herald Newspaper, Chief Sub-Editor and Training Editor of The Guardian Newspaper and pioneer Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Independent Newspapers before joining the services of the University of Ilorin and assisting in the establishment of the Department of Mass Communication of the University.  

In the lecture, Mr. Olorunyomi, said the journalism industry in the country is suffering from an 'existential crisis' which must be tackled primarily by addressing the revenue crisis of the media through innovative thinking.  

In his lecture, entitled “Independent Journalism at the Interface of the Digital Transition”,the Premium Times Publisher, who stressed the critical importance of media institutions towards building a virile democracy, said, “Democracy deteriorates only to the extent that journalism itself has degenerated; so if you see the kind of craziness that is happening in our political system…it's happening only because journalism has failed to provide effective oversight.”

Pointing out that advertising remains one of the biggest constraints to media freedom in Nigeria, the award-winning journalist said, “You have to address the revenue crisis of the media, otherwise, it's a joke, you can't address the ethical problem”.

Mr. Olorunyomi recalled that the old Daily Times, under the leadership of the doyen of Nigerian journalism, the late Alhaji Babatunde Jose, circulated about a million copies per day “on the poorest of days” while “The Herald newspaper at its best, was circulating 400,000 copies a day”, lamenting that “today, the combined total of newspaper sales in this country is just about 150,000 copies a day”.

Recognising the significant role of the press in the development of a society, the Guest Lecturer, who explained that the quest to entrench accountability is central to the social purpose of journalism, stressed that this must, however, be backed by a strong financial model, challenging the academia to give more credence to media management in their curriculum. 

In his tribute, Mr. Olorunyomi, who said the late Mahmoud was his High School senior, described the late pioneer Head of Mass Communication Department as the “biggest myth while we were at The Guardian when it was formed in 1985”. He said, “I characterise Mr. Mahmoud as a renaissance person, a man of incredible thirst for ideas and almost …you could describe him as someone who was so greedy of knowledge…we would describe him as a consequentialist editor.” 

According to him, the late Mahmoud “always brought the gift of a very brilliant and nimble mind, a ceaselessly humane disposition, a reflective mind and an incredible gift to manage diversity and complexity through the power of imagination and innovative thinking”. He said that “these qualities that Mahmoud brought and helped institute at The Herald and from what I am hearing, at the University of Ilorin, to my mind, are in serious dire need today for this industry if this industry is going to wake up”.

In his remarks at the event, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, said the legacy of late Doyin Mahmoud “is something we should all learn from …we should all realise that as we live our lives, in the end just like in our beginning, we are all going to be words. You can choose which kind of word you want to be, but believe me, what people cannot say in front of you; they will say it behind you. We are all going to be words and I beseech all of us, let's work hard to leave good words to be said after we leave here.”

On his part, the Ag. Dean of the Faculty of Communication and Information Sciences, Dr R.G. Jimoh, commended the Department of Mass Communication for continually celebrating the achievements of the late Mahmoud, describing him as an accomplished individual. 

Earlier in her welcome address, the Ag. Head of the Department Mass Communication, Dr. (Mrs.) Saudat Abdulbaqi, said, “It was painful that Mr. Doyin Mahmoud could not witness the fruit of his labour.” 

Dr. Abdulbaqi said that the late Mahmoud, who single-handedly started the Department, “laid a very solid foundation that we are ever proud of”, adding that the Department has turned out ten sets of graduands since its inception. 

Highlights of the occasion was the launching of the students' training  publication, 'The Lens' magazine, which was reviewed by veteran journalist and scholar, Alhaji Liad Tella, and the conferment of awards on two former Vice-Chancellors of the University, Profs. Shamsudeen Amali and Is-haq Oloyede, both of whom were represented at the event by Dr.  Amali and Prof. Badmus L. Yusuf respectively, and were honoured for their contributions towards the establishment of the Department.