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UNILAG Professor blasts Compass Newspaper for "Pay-As-You-Go" Policy

Ralph-Akinfeleye UNILAG Professor blasts Compass Newspaper for "Pay-As-You-Go" Policy"A professor at the Mass Communication department of the University of Lagos, Ralph Akinfeleye, has described the controversial ‘pay-as-you-go’ policy of the New Nigerian Compass newspaper as “naked and unethical”.

The policy attaches correspondents’ Basic Travel Allowance, BTA, to the usage of their articles in the newspaper.

The editorial staff of the newspaper are also mandated to submit two pages of paid advert placements per month to be entitled to any pay.

According to the newspaper’s management, correspondents will be paid “N5,000 for every lead (front page story) submitted and published in any of the Compass titles; N2,000 for any good, event picture that is submitted and published in any of the Compass titles; N2,500 for any front page (minor) story with picture submitted and published in any of the Compass titles.

“N1,500 for any other story submitted and published in any of the Compass titles; N1,500 for any original cartoon submitted and published in any of the Compass titles; and N3,000 for every news video & audio clips used online.”

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Reacting to the development, Mr. Akinfeleye, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES on Monday, said the policy was dead on arrival and would not be accepted by the media industry in Nigeria.

“The arrangement is weak footed, it is not achievable, it is unethical, it is a naked arrangement,” Mr. Akinfeleye said. “Naked in the sense that it needs to be clothed, you don’t pay journalists on pay-as-go, they are not casual workers.

“Any journalist accepting that kind of offer should examine himself; it means he himself is s!ck in the head. Not only that the policy or arrangement is contradictory, it is unprofessional, it is slave labour and it should be stopped.”

Mr. Akinfeleye, who is Chairman, Centre for Media Excellence in Cinematography, urged the Nigerian Guild of
Editors, NGE; the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, to address the bizarre policy. He also urged the new management of the newspaper to find a better way to generate revenue.

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The professor said, “The Guild of Editors and the NUJ should talk to the owner of the newspaper. After coming back from a long halt or is it death, this policy is a direct flight to closure. Because when you are working, your salary should be certain and when the salary is not certain, the newspaper will die.

“The publisher or management should design a more scientific way of getting revenue. Don’t contaminate the work of the editorial staff with the work of the advert department- you need to separate Genesis from Exodus. Let the editorial do their work and get news, let the advert department do their work and look for adverts for the newspaper.”

The Mass Communication scholar urged the management to adopt the already existing policies in some newspapers where “any journalist who is able to get adverts is entitled to a certain per cent in
additional to his salary”.

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Defending the controversial policy, Segun Oyebolu, the company’s managing director, said the policy only affects the correspondents’ Basic Travel Allowance, BTA, and not their salaries.

“We were talking about the BTA because we found out that we were paying people who go to their houses and stay, and then go to The Punch website, download a story and bring to the editor,” Mr. Oyebolu said.

“Nothing has affected their contract with Compass.

“Sometimes, the stories they (correspondents) bring are not even genuine. I can’t continue to run money down the drain,” Mr. Oyebolu added.

On the issue of tying journalists’ pay to the advertisements they bring to the paper, Mr. Oyebolu said the policy was a private contractual affairs between the company and its staff.

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