The Editor as a Businessman


Being a paper presented by Chooks Oko, Editor-in-Chief/COO of Citizens Trumpet Newspapers at the All Nigeria Editors Conference (ANEC) holding in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on September 22, 2017.
Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished colleagues, it is a great honour and privilege to be standing before you to throw some thoughts around on THE EDITOR AS A BUSINESSMAN. One of the immediate confusions I had when I was asked to speak on this topic few days ago was where to take it from. How do you dissect the whole from the being or the being from the whole? How do you separate the mouth from the stomach or the stomach from the mouth? Thus I shall be throwing it back to all of us. I now ask, is the Editor a Businessman? Is he not? While you might be quick to choose an easy option, I urge you to pause and ponder this more deeply before you answer. For the purposes of this discourse, we shall be looking at the Editor who is fully in charge of his media outfit and those likely to assume that responsibility tomorrow in any form of media. Let us look at some basics.
The Editor
Who is an Editor? Of course I do know that everybody in this hall is here because we all lay claim to the title, but who are you? Supposedly? says
A person having managerial and sometimes policy making responsibility related to the writing, compilation, and revision of content for a publishing (broadcasting) firm or for a newspaper, magazine, or other publication (Radio/Television). 
We don’t need to think much to agree with this definition but arising from it are the basic traits nay roles of an Editor viz: 
Policy making
These are broad areas but covers the basics of the Editor job.
The Editor manages human and material resources to get the best out of them for the optimal benefit of his organisation. He worries about deadlines, worries about welfare, worries about production material, logistics of circulation, revenue from sundry sources and the dynamics of mixing all these together to get the best results. Thus he worries on how he will turn the raw materials available to him in human and material forms to the greatest advantage of his organisation. How successful he gets at it either ups or lowers his rating as a good manager.
 The Editor works with the top brass of his organisation to formulate policies for running the shop. Again, the effectiveness or otherwise of the policies they formulate will define their existence in the marketplace.
 The primary role of Editors, of course, is writing. It is the quality or otherwise of his own writing that will determine how he moulds the writers and reporters under him. That is probably what Dawn Rosenberg Mackay, an American career planner had in mind when she posited that ” Editors need strong writing, interpersonal , listening and speaking skills”. These will no doubt distinguish Editors from Editors.
 This is the packaging of the product over which the Editor superintends. Again his personality will reflect in the final product that comes from his stable.
 The last part of the Editor’s job is a revision, a final look at his product before it gets to the market.
If we all agree, we have successfully X-rayed and situated our colleague, the ideal Editor who is at the pinnacle of his career having gone through the rungs and now berthed at the corridors of executive managerial position where his actions and inactions will point his organisation on the way they must go.
The Businessman 
Merriam-Webster Dictionary says a Businessman is
A man who works in business especially in a high position. A Man who is good at dealing with business and financial matters; a man in business especially as an owner or a manager. says
Businessmen are often associated with white collar jobs. In order to avoid sexism or the perpetuation of stereotypes, the term is often replaced with BUSINESSPERSON.
 Wikipedia goes another way
No rigid or formal educational qualification requirements can be stated for becoming a businessperson. However, there are certain attributes that successful businessmen must possess: tact financial and business savvy, courage, leadership, vision, creativity, imagination, and organising ability.
Now, are we noticing something? Almost all the qualities of the Editor are paraphrased as same qualities of a businessman. These include:
If the organisation must run, the Editor needs to know a bit about how to manage and generate finances. He has to have his eyes, ears and intellect in the business side of the organisation. How to make money, keep money, make the money bring in more money, deploy money strategically and generally run a profitable business.
 Just as the Editor needs courage to carry truthful stories no matter whose ox is gored, so does the businessman need courage to take bold money making decisions. In this case again, the Editor deploys courage in both situations as he needs to also make some bold financial decisions that require courage.
 We already discussed how the Editor manages human and material resources, he also leads by example so as to get the job done.
 The ability of the Editor to carry stories that draw or distance the audience from his medium is one of the key tools he possesses. In the business aspect of his organisation, just like in formulating policies, he plans policies that will put his organisation on the road to their desired end.
 These are the hallmarks of a good Editor.
 These we had discussed severally earlier.
The average Editor sees the appellation BUSINESSMAN as derogatory, depicting a certain greed to make money. In fact, it is generally seen as an alias for wheeler-dealing omnibus money makers without scruples. But we all can see that it is not the case in the real sense.
The Editor, in other to run a good show, in or out of the Chair, need to combine his training and the instincts of a businessman to pull his company through while also making money for himself. 
Frank Aigbogun, a successful Editor and Businessman says 
The Editor must understand that business exists in the real world and not the idealistic creation of a journalist. A businessman and his work centres on producing results. Most importantly, the Editor must learn about how universal business principles are and once you grasp this, you can be in publishing, manufacturing, oil or gas. Many Editors I meet make the awful mistake of believing there is a Nigerian way. Profit is the same all over the world. It does not have a Nigerian or newspaper definition. Learning and patience are invaluable.
Frank should know, he has made a huge success of both worlds.
Arising from all these, and given the realities of the present economic dynamics, what should the Editor do to be seen as a successful businessman?
A. He must immediately take a SWOT analysis of his organisation. S- strength; W- weakness; O- opportunities; T- threats. These, done objectively, will place a clear picture of the health of the organisation on your table as it will immediately tell you your reception in the marketplace (feedback).
B. Having done A above, you will immediately know where the problem is and take steps to strengthen them. This could mean changing some ways you do business, repackaging, re-jigging staff, introduction of new features/programmes, cutting or increase in rates and other things depending on the result of the analysis.
C. Diversification into other/ ancillary areas of the business on a commercial basis taking care to ensure the best practices are adhered to in running the new business. Most successful businessmen have always said you need to have several sources of income. For instance, a newspaper house can diversify into selling of reels and other printing consumables, sister publications, consultancy services, shares in major companies and other money making ventures.
D. Keep your overhead as low as practicable maximizing each resource to the best of its potential.
E. Dress smartly and insist on same for your staff. Your appearance is most likely to either attract or repel the person you are prospecting for business.
F. Move around the circles that matter in your environment. That way, you will meet the decision makers, opinion molders and captains of industry.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am not forgetting that news gathering and dissemination is our primary concern. You can also make money and attract a lot of goodwill by sticking to the ethics of the profession. You will earn a lot of goodwill if your medium is seen as credible. That will surely earn you revenue that will elude others. In preparation for life beyond the chair, you might need to think of special publications. You can do biographies of great people, special publication on your area of primary assignment, collaborate with others to write on special areas, niche publications or even your columns or your experience.
Above all, the businessman wants results, as we have agreed, so approaching your everyday duty with such clear cut goals will guarantee you the yields of a successful businessman.
Having said all these, I throw it back at us, is the Editor a Businessman?
I thank you all.


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