What news organizations go through to put news on the table

We are thinking of expanding our horizon in terms of news coverage in Nigeria, putting reporters in (at least) the capitals of all the 36 States of the Federation including Abuja. At exactly what cost? We picked our Biro and paper to work out what it will cost us on tight budget to achieve these, don’t forget we wanted it off the ground as soon as possible.

First, we need to hire minimum of 37 Journalists, one each for the 36 states and Abuja. Each of the reporters must be from the respective state who is familiar with every corner in that particular region. We want our Journalists to be comfortable enough to be able to have a sense of belonging and not easily swayed like a wave befallen by heavy tiding. So, we penned down monthly salary of N200,000 each — N7,400,000 off the purse every month.

Next, is the equipments — professional cameras, recording devices, secret cameras for occasional use, and motor bikes for every reporter, costing about N700,000 per set — taking a whooping total cost of N25,900,000 for just equipments. And if we replace the motor bikes with cars, someone may pass out.

Then, the final blow that landed me on the floor and really got me panting — moving around within Nigeria and international trips! I decided to take a dig at The New York Times to find out how much they spend on average for international trips (not as if we are ready to match the expenses of giant news organizations like New York Times) just to be in the know. The finding would send us back to the little caves where we are coming from with our tails behind our legs.

Example – the last month trip to China with President Obama to cover his Asia and Australia visits cost every news corps $92,111 (N16,764,202) for flights alone! That was the bill The New York Times got from the White House traveling arrangements, though they took different traveling arrangement at a huge risks and discomfort and ended up spending a partly sum of $5,287 (N962,234) which is still a big deal to cover one or two events.

Remember, these are just the cost of delivering the news, we aren’t talking about the cost of processing the news into final consumable. These will include the offices, the infrastructures, staffing, the licensing, maintenance — this will cost from millions to billions

About his experience in relation to the last month travel, H.J Peterson, a freelance Journalist has these to say – “As an independent photographer and journalist, I’ve almost never had the advantage of deep pockets. Yet my tight-fisted publishers have always expected me to deliver the same results as my more well-supported peers. Early on, I learned I needed to be more creative and resourceful than they were if I had plans to make this a career. I’d like to think these same skills have kept me here.

Having covered more than a few major events from the cheap seats, there was both pride in knowing I did the best I could despite the circumstances as well as frustration in realizing I could have done much better. Of course, the experiences when I traveled first class have usually been the ones I best remember.

But, I’ve often questioned if they were actually those where I did my best work. Sure, I was well-compensated and all my expenses covered. But, did this come at a price to my objectivity?

These days, money, more than anything else, appears to define the whats, whens, wheres, whys and hows of our news coverage. It’s not a new phenomenon. I’ve used the term “checkbook journalism” as far back as the early 80’s. But, it’s taken on such a life in the last decade or so that I can’t help wonder if there is still a truly free press?

I suppose the real question here is, could the Times have held up its journalistic responsibility and delivered just as good a story to its readers without spending the extra $86,824? What did they gain? Or, more importantly, what did they lose?”

The truth is that Constative.com is here to stay, preparing to takeover as a major news organization in this part of the world. We are not in for a joke, we are not here to follow. Having invested massively for everything premium, this is just our next challenge. So, next time you see a major news organization, stop by and show some love!


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