Udoh, Evans Udofia, started his media career as a sales manager with the defunct Concord newspaper in 1980, earning what he termed a good pay. He worked in various newspapers and magazines for years as full-time staff in various departments.
In 2005, when Ted Iwere held forth as managing director of Daily Independent newspaper, Udofia, an indigene of Akwa Ibom state, literally dumped full time jobs to become a newspaper vendor, with his newsstand situated at Allen Junction, opposite the old Alade market in Ikeja.
He told Emmanuel Udom why he took that decision, what newspaper owners should do to remain in business in this tumultuous times, and why the print media cannot die, despite the emergence of computers, internet and the social media.
Tell us how your career in the media started?
Well, after my secondary school, I started my career in 1980 with the defunct Concord newspaper, where I was hired as a sales manager. In 1985, the management of the newspaper promoted me to the position of Regional Sales Manager and posted me to Cross Rivers State.
That same year, I left Concord to hustle full time as a newspaper distributor and agent and was shuttling between Lagos, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and other states across the federation.
In 1987, I gained admission to the Cross River state Polytechnic, where I studied mass communication. While at school, I was distributing Pioneer Newspaper, when the paper came into being when Akwa Ibom state was created in 1989.
Later, I joined TSMM magazine owned by Senator Chris Anyanwu in 1990 as Sales Manager and later resigned, returned to the streets as a newspaper agent and distributor.
But, in 2005, I joined Daily Independent newspaper as Sales Representatives, after I bagged upper credit from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Ogba, Lagos, where I studied from 1997-1990. Ted Iwere, was the managing director of Daily Independent, then.
So, why did you leave Concord newspaper in the first place?
I went on fact findings mission on the streets and discovered after due analysis that newspaper distributors and agents were making more money than those of us working full time in the media. This was the reason I resigned from Concord.
Okay, what happened while at Daily Independent?
Well, I joined the paper as sales representatives and ended up as Sales Manager, when the evening version of the paper-Breaking News was created and David Odey was hired to edit the paper.
While holding forth as manager, unsold department was created where workers under my supervision were instructed to monitor and analyze copies sales, especially unsold copies.
Eventually, I left Daily Independent, set up Destiny news, a weekly newspaper and we reported how the late Dele Giwa, founding editor-in-chief of Newswatch magazine was murdered. The copies sold in thousands, nationwide. I later set up The Edge newspaper, which is now rested, due to finance.
Today, newspaper owners are down-sizing; salaries are not being for months, while the papers are shrinking by the day, what is the way out?
COVID-19 has battered the economy of Individuals, groups, corporate bodies, states and nations. But, in this battered economy, every sector is affected. It is not limited to the media sector alone. Other sectors are hiring and firing, as well while struggling to survive.
So, what should media owners do now to survive?
They should think outside the box, be creative and strategize on how best to remain in business, in the market. Take it, leave it, the print media still has a bright future, beyond online journalism.
If print media owners are creative, think outside the box, apply direct sales strategies in the distributions and sales of their papers, and focus on exclusive, human interest stories, etc, the papers will not die. I spoke recently with Ray Ekpu, where I outlined some of these and he agreed with me.
How do you relax with your family from your daily hustles?
For decades, I have been sleeping less than five hours every night. My wife, who met me on the job knows and appreciate this with my children. I have unparalleled passion for all sorts of media jobs and the ministry of Jesus Christ. I am presently attending a theological college in preparations to help spread the gospel.