By April 2014, when TheCable — the third of Nigeria’s three strongest online newspapers — was founded, there was no print newspaper that hadn’t created an online version. There was as well no television or radio station that hadn’t established an online presence. That was the extent to which digital media was redesigning journalism practice.
Revenues were rising, too, particularly for the legacy papers which only needed to deploy the might of their print team to online. For them, it was simply a matter of republishing online some of the stories that were originally printed. With this seamless multiplication of strength came revenue that, a few years back, wouldn’t have existed.
On the flip side, the print began to ask itself some hard questions, the leading of which was how to maintain editorial appeal in the face of a new 24-hour news cycle championed by a raft of emerging online outlets. In the mid- to late 2000s, it seemed print newspapers were the ones doing the real journalism, the online in a second-class category of journalism wannabes empowered with nothing more than technology. But by 2014, digital media had attracted enough out-and-out journalists who brought respectability and professionalism to the space. Today, three are as strong and reliable as any print outfit.
Premium Times is technically an offshoot of NEXT, the multiple-award-winning newspaper founded in 2004 by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Dele Olojede. After the collapse of NEXT in 2011 — just two years after it was first printed — a number of NEXT journalists, led by revered journalist Dapo Olorunyomi, moved online to launch Premium Times, fondly called PT. It is left-leaning and is Nigeria’s leading investigative newspaper, regularly breaking stories that shape national discourse. PT is generally regarded as the leader in the serious online-only category.
Sahara Reporters is the oldest surviving strong online newspaper in Nigeria. Founded in 2006 by Omoyele Sowore, foremost student activist, the medium is an institutional replica of its founder’s personality. SR, for short, is simply the relocation of activism to the media space — a policy its management defends proudly and unashamedly. SR is Nigeria’s ultimate leak journalism site, having accessed and published tons of jealously-guarded documents exposing corruption in government and human rights abuses. On the flip side, however, much of its good work has been criticised for operating a media trial-like reportage of allegedly corrupt public officials. Not like its publisher cares. TheCable is considered to rank third in the serious-news online-only category of Nigerian newspapers and is one of the most respected. Founded in November 2011 by influential columnist and former THISDAY editor Simon Kolawole, TheCable was launched April 2014. The news site prides itself for its “speed and simplicity” in news delivery and aims to “deliver knowledge-driven journalism in the pursuit of Nigeria’s progress.” The newspaper’s political leading could be described as centrist.
There is also the International Centre for Investigative Reporting ICIR) founded in Abuja in 2010 by Dayo Aiyetan. It focuses solely on investigative journalism with a mission “to promote good governance and entrench democratic values by reporting, exposing, and combating corruption”.