Mr Olumide Iyanda, Editor-in-Chief of QED, www.qed.ng, a fast-growing online news service believe that the Internet can help chronicle the Nigerian entertainment industry.
Iyanda, a journalist with over two decades of experience in the newsroom shares his thoughts on online journalism, the opportunities, challenges and the future of the journalism profession in Nigeria.
He also talks about the ambitious vision that led to the formation of QED, among other topical industry issues with Kolade Akinola of Technology Times.
Excerpts of the interview below:
Technology Times: Let me start by asking how you come about the name QED?
Olumide Iyanda: It is from a Latin expression that means something that is proven, authentic and verified, and the reason we came up with that name for our publication is that we want to publish stories that are true and of public interest. That’s why our mantra is, “powered by the truth.”
Technology Times: Your website has gone through a major makeover in the last couple of weeks. What informed that decision?
Olumide Iyanda: We wanted to actually live up to our character, a character where you come for news and entertainment. The unique thing about QED is that we write news in the way that entertains people. If you want to entertain people, you have to have a platform that has the look and feel to provide that.
What we had before was good for that period we had it, and as we grew, we decided to come up with something that is more entertaining and appealing to the senses. But the philosophy remains the same, and that is, writing stories in the way that entertains you.
We don’t just write about entertainment, but we also entertain. The new website allows you to navigate around the site. The design is easier for anybody to access and go through the site.
Technology Times: Who is QED aimed at and what has the response and reception been so far?
Olumide Iyanda: Our target audience are those that have keen interest in breaking news, celebrity stories and lifestyle, because there is an element of lifestyle in what we do every day and our stories are of interest to people of all ages, most especially the middle class. From our back-end statistics, what most of our audience read more is the breaking news and celebrity lifestyle.
Technology Times: You write stories that cover major sector of the economy ranging from entertainment, fashion, sports, business, politics, lifestyle, but not ICT and the ICT sector has been seen by many analyst as the driver of growth in the economy. Are you having any challenge covering that sector?
Olumide Iyanda: We can’t be everything to everybody. Our goal is to report all sector but majorly entertainment. I have been an entertainment journalist for the better part of 20 years. Our forte is entertainment and when we talk about entertainment, we look at what entertains you: that is music, sports, celebrity lifestyle and off course, if there are major stories in the ICT sector, we write about it and publish it.
Technology Times: You are a member of the Guild of Corporate Online Publisher (GOCOP). Does your association have any platform to check and protect intellectual property of its members and online publishers as a whole?
Olumide Iyanda: GOCOP is not a regulatory agency. Unfortunately, in this age of Internet explosion, there is little you can do about regulation. A lot of regulations need to be done by self. Almost all members of GOCOP are members of the Nigeria Guild of Editor.
“Our target audience are those that have keen interest in breaking news, celebrity stories and lifestyle, because there is an element of lifestyle in what we do every day and our stories are of interest to people of all ages, most especially the middle class. From our back-end statistics, what most of our audience read more is the breaking news and celebrity lifestyle.”
To be a member of GOCOP, you need to be in the online business for quite sometimes. In terms of what we do in the industry, we help each other in the area of peer review. We also organise workshops for members on how to improve on their business and understand the beat they cover.
The good thing is that when people start seeing good stories online they would want to emulate such and be more professional in the discharge of their duties.
In recent time, some people have fallen into terrible trouble because of the falsehood in the story they publish. We do not expect such from a member of GOCOP. We expect fairness, equity and truth because it is better to be safe than sorry.
GOCOP is not out to regulate the industry. The law has provision for that. That is the Cybercrime Act. But we partner with organisations and individuals for the growth of our members because online business is ever evolving.
In GOCOP there is a screening committee that intending members would pass through not because we don’t want members, but we want to be sure that people that join us deserve it.
Technology Times: So far, would you say you have achieved the original vision of your organisation? How far have you come?
Olumide Iyanda: We have achieved some of them, but there are still some left behind. But that boils down to the problems on the structure you have on ground. You wouldn’t know how bad Internet connectivity is until you venture into business that requires access to the Internet.
This afternoon, I just had to call my Internet service provider on the quality of service and of course, there is also problem of electricity. But we have been able to achieve a lot with the quality of team we have because when we started, we managed our expectations and we felt we needed more sense than money, and the sense has carried us thus far beyond that.
In terms of acceptance, we are very fortunate and in terms of content we have been able to achieve a good feat. We don’t just aggregate stories. We have reporters that generate content. What we do is to be creative in generating content and be the leading online provider of news and entertainment.
“GOCOP is not out to regulate the industry. The law has provision for that. That is the Cybercrime Act. But we partner with organisations and individuals for the growth of our members because online business is ever evolving.”
What we also do is also using multimedia to tell our stories by uploading pictures, videos and music. So far, we have been doing well and we don’t have any financial fears. That gives us reasons for gratitude and we are optimistic of attaining lofty heights.
Technology Times: What efforts are you pointing in place to scale up and out shine the big players in the industry?
Olumide Iyanda: What drives online publishing is content, the quality of content. Those who started early have the benefits of starting early and they keep getting better.
Our strategy is to give good content and sometimes the traffic might not be a reflection of how good your content is. Many people buy Facebook likes, followers on Twitter. Social media has changed the way things are done.
For us at QED, we are powered by the truth and we would never compromise standard in the quality of our content by blackmailing anybody to get cheap popularity.
Technology Times: What lesson do you think online brands like QED learn from traditional media owners and vice versa?
Olumide Iyanda: You must treat business as business. We must also invest on key areas for business to work and must be committed to whatever you are doing. I often say that in life you don’t necessarily get what you deserve, you get what you bargain for. For me, three principles that help, honesty, willingness and open mindedness and you must welcome new ideas.
Technology Times: What do you think of the future of journalism in Nigeria?
Olumide Iyanda: The future of journalism is bright. But the thing is that we need to keep innovating or you become extinct.
Technology Times: Do you have plans to have a print publication in the nearest future?
Olumide Iyanda: No. That’s not in our immediate plans.
Technology Times: Where do you see QED in the next five years?
Olumide Iyanda: We want to see QED doing very well, that is, the leading provider of news. We want to be the go-to place for news and entertainment.