#DigitalJournalism101 – lessons from the FT

OK. So Newsweek’s gone wholly digital. The final print issue appeared December 2012.

Now the Financial Times has just unveiled its own “digital-first” strategy

Read editor Lionel Barber’s letter to his staff, here


“Mobile alone now accounts for 25 per cent of all the FT’s digital traffic.”

“We are moving from a news business to a networked business.”

“We need to ensure that we are serving a digital platform first, and a newspaper second.”

“We must rethink how we publish our content, when and in what form, whether conventional news, blogs, video or social media.”

“This is not an easy transition, but we are obliged to take the difficult steps to secure the FT’s future as one of the world’s great news organisations.”



My thoughts: I wonder where exactly Nigeria stands amidst the digital upheaval. No doubt digital is the future, but print seems set to stay around for the foreseeable future. People will still need an outlet for their birthday messages and obituaries, and governments will need an outlet for their advertorials and rejoinders. Things seems truer/real-er on paper, perhaps.

Meanwhile keep this in mind: Mobile devices overtook desktop computers as the primary means of accessing the internet in Nigeria late in 2011

India (internet penetration 11%) followed in mid-2012


A review I wrote, of ‘Future Tense: Travails of NEXT And Nigerian Journalism In The Digital Age.’ A book reviewing the birth and death (temporary, one hopes) of Nigeria’s NEXT newspaper, and the state of journalism in the country in the 21st century. HERE 


(ON)GOING CONCERNS: Choosing the next president

(On)Going Concerns, my weekly column for NEXT, appears on Wednesdays, in print and online. This week’s piece (Feb 23, 2011) below:

Choosing the next president

By Tolu Ogunlesi

Former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd recently told the Financial Times: “I believe in politics for the two questions it asks of us. One is: ‘What do you stand for and why?’ And the second is: ‘Do you know what you are talking about?”

These are excellent questions to carry over into the Nigerian situation.

Think of Nuhu Ribadu. What comes to mind is a man who came into public reckoning on the strength of his fearlessness, and determination to rid Nigeria of financial crime. Think Fola Adeola and Pat Utomi, and their impressive resumes speak for them, evidence of a consistently-manifested genius for visionary thinking, and for the management of people and resources. Tunde Bakare brings “conviction”, “fearlessness” and “integrity” to mind.

I think of Dele Momodu and of a certain drive and eclectic ambition; a man who, once he sets his eyes on a goal, will work to make it happen. Muhamadu Buhari evokes frugality and (to borrow from Wole Soyinka) “dis’plin” – qualities sorely needed in a country ravaged by lawlessness and recklessness.

Now think of Goodluck Jonathan, and what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s time to confess my confusion. Has Mr. President done a great job of letting us know what exactly he stands for, and to what extent he knows what he’s talking about. I honestly can’t say for sure.

Maybe it’s simply a personality issue. Mr. Jonathan does seem to be an introvert, which in itself is not a bad thing. But I fear that he is not doing a good enough job of asserting himself in the office he occupies. (Now, sadly, this is one of those lines that I fear someone in one of the anti-Jonathan camps will seize and proclaim on Facebook, for campaign purposes).

Continue reading here

[Review] – Akiavic Blue Roof Hotel – A compelling ‘mix’ in Ondo

[Note: I was in Ondo town in September 2009 to cover the funeral of lawyer and human rights activist, Gani Fawehinmi, for my paper, NEXT. My first night in the town I stayed at the Akiavic Blue Roof Hotel. Below is a review I did back then, but never published. [My articles on Gani may be found here (obituary), here (funeral) and here (on my visit to his house the morning after the funeral)]


Akiavic Blue Roof Hotel
237 Brigadier Ademulegun Road, Ondo town,
Ondo State

By Tolu Ogunlesi

After having got used to life in Lagos it never fails to be a pleasant surprise when I discover a hotel or bar where Smirnoff Ice is not sold as a minor luxury. (Yes, Smirnoff Ice! – unlike the average journalist I’m only a minor alcoholic).

Welcome to Akiavic Blue Roof Hotel, located along Brigadier Ademulegun Road, Ondo town. It’s not only the mouthful-of-a-name that makes an attempt at grandness. Even the architecture tries. From the outside it is an imposing blue-and-white structure (blue-roofed, of course) set amid spacious grounds. Once inside you discover that it is a series of blocks, A – D. By the gate is an internet cafe, filled with young males, and open 24 hours a day.

The hotel, which appears to be one of the leading lights of the town’s hospitality industry, is a compelling mix of shabbiness and attempted-luxury. Guests are in town to bid Gani farewell, so business is great tonight. Hotel rooms in small towns are typically inexpensive, as a rule, and for sums that would not get you a broom closet in a Lagos hotel you’d expect to live relatively well in a small town hotel. Room prices range between N4,400 ($30) per night and about N10,000 ($70)

White and blue

It is clear that business is good tonight, and the available rooms are dwindling fast. The room I get, for the equivalent of fifty dollars, is a “suite” – two large-sized rooms, one serving as a living room, the other a bedroom.
The entire hotel is done up in white and blue, white walls, blue doors, blue curtains, even the ceiling doesn’t escape unscathed – white boards held in place by blue strips of plywood. But it’s called “blue roof hotel” isn’t it?
Even the plastic dustbin in my “living room” (that sounds good, eh?) is blue. And there are paintings on the walls. Well, not exactly paintings, they look more like almanacs mounted on wooden boards, and framed. The one in the bedroom is a nature painting – serene stream, clear sky, lush vegetation.

The living room painting features four excited babies, clad in diapers and anticipating the future – each of them has donned the paraphernalia of one profession or the other – chef’s peak, nurse’s stethoscope and cap, academic’s cap. It is perhaps no coincidence that the most excited of them all wears a lawyer’s wig and has a gavel sitting between his feet. This is after all the hometown of “legal luminary” Gani Fawehinmi.

Above the painting, the wall clock has come to a stop at 12:37. The fridge is empty. When I open it a musty smell escapes. The TV works. The water heater mounted in the bathroom works.

No more than an attempt

Supper is rice and stew and goat meat. Make that “goat bone”. But at N500 for the plate I can’t complain much. Waiting for it in the tiny restaurant “Nigezie” makes it hard to forget I’m no longer in Lagos. It’s a best-of-both-worlds scenario, really, the tranquillity of Ondo bundled with the feel, piped in by television, of Lagos. MI and Banky W are telling us their favourite videos, and all the swag I associate with Lagos is present in full force.

The next morning I order yam and egg (N400; room service is an additional N50); it takes far more than the promised fifteen minutes to arrive, and the egg is no-frills, but I enjoy it. The pack of juice (big-sized) that ‘washes it down’ costs only N400.
There’s much to recommend Akiavic Blue Roof. Inexpensive. The politeness of the staff never flags. There’s cheap internet access (the quality is debatable). But as I get ready to face the business of the day, I’m not sure if I’m ready to spend another night. The hotel does make a serious attempt at luxury. But an attempt is just what it is. An attempt.

Uppsala, Bookaholic blog, BellaNaija, Harare North

I’m back in Uppsala, the beautiful Swedish University town 40 minutes by train from Stockholm. I’ll be participating in the What’s Culture Got to Do With It conference (details here), organised by the Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala. I arrived yesterday, in the midst of relentless rain. Pardon my ignorance, but, I thought June was supposed to be Summer…

I spent 3 months in 2008 (Sept to November) as a Guest Writer at the Nordic Africa Institute. Read about my 2008 Uppsala (& Scandinavian) experiences here. Lived for those 3 months in the Hotel Uppsala, where I am back to spend a week this time. It was in this hotel, Room 223, that I watched Obama become President on the morning (around 5am) of November 5, 2008.


The Bookaholic Blog interviewed me, published on their blog, (here) and on BellaNaija’s website. ‘Bookaholic’ is two super-hardworking literary enthusiasts and activists based in Lagos, Nigeria – Temitayo Olofinlua and Isabella Akinseye (presenter of the ‘Bookaholic’ segment on the Today Show, Silverbird Television (STV)).  


I recently read Brian Chikwava’s debut novel, Harare North, and reviewed it for The Lagos Review (the Arts and Culture pages of NEXT). (Chikwava won the Caine Prize in 2004) The review appeared yesterday, (June 14, 2009). You can read it online here