Monday, May 19, 2014


Muhammad Haruna
Being A Lecture Delivered At Bayero University Kano, Mass Communication Department On Friday 16th May, 2014.
An i-Witness Report by Tijjani Muhammad Musa

The day, Friday 16th May, 2014. The time, 10:00 in the morning. The venue, Mass Communication Department, Bayero University Kano. The occasion, A Special Lecture on MAGAZINE PUBLISHING. The distinguish lecturer? Muhammad Haruna. "The" Muhammad Haruna? Yes, the one and only iconic media legend. Dr. Balarabe Maikaba, Head of Department Mass Communication BUK was the Chief Host of the occasion.

In attendance Professor Abdallah Uba Adamu, Bala Muhammad, Dr. Hajara U. Sanda, Ruqayya Y. Aliyu and other departmental lecturers were also part of the lecture. Of course yours truly, Tijjani Muhammad Musa was also very much present. So were many students of the department, both males and females.

The session commenced around 10:15am, Malam Haruna Isma'il, a lecturer of the department and the convenor of the event mastering the ceremony. He called on Dr. A. D. Alhassan who is also a lecturer at the Mass Communication Department of the university, but is currently on loan to the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to introduce the guest lecturer. He, not only did that, but set the pace the lecturer subsequently took and what an enriching event it really turned out to be.

The Guest Lecturer speaking
Muhammad Haruna without much ado delivered the lecture clearly, concisely and distinctively within scheduled time. He started by defining what essentially a magazine is, followed by the origin of the name "magazine" itself, which is an Arabic word "magsoon". Then he enlightened the audience about differences between a magazine and a newspaper. Thereafter he went on to tell about the history of magazine publishing, both in the world at large and in Nigeria in particular. The first magazine according to world history was published in Germany in 1663 and in Nigeria Newswatch was the pioneer news magazine in 1985. Before Newswatch however, Drum and Spear magazine were available in the 1950s.

Muhammad Haruna explaining
a point
After tracing the journey of magazine publications into the present day, the erudite and petit literary icon went on to inform about how to publish a magazine. Muhammad Haruna said though it is very simple in theory, like every other worthwhile project, it is a herculean task to achieve. He based his assertion upon his personal experience as one of the 6 journalists who established the several award winning Citizen Magazine, which was published and made available to Nigerians between 1990 to 1994, before certain factors among which are under capitalization i.e. lack of proper funding, problem of education that is lack of adequate reading culture among the populace and poor management on their part, led to the demise of the magazine.

Muhammad Haruna and Prof. Abdallah
However, he cited Kabiru Yusuf, the publisher of Daily Trust Newspaper, one of the most successful print medium in the country at the moment, not just in northern Nigeria, who was among them then as a comforting outcome, with the belief that the experience from their stint has not completely been lost to the drains of history, as lessons from that Citizen Magazine publication might have made him set up the Trust Media outfit on a surer footing.

Well prepared, the visiting "Been there. Done that" columnist came with many magazine samples, both local (Tell, The News, TSM and some soft sells etc), continental (West Africa, African Report, Policy etc) and foreign (Tattler, Vanity Fair, Economist etc), both defunct and current, plus many others. He demostrated point after point by lifting up examples, showing pages to buttress them from the pile of magazines he had on display. He said there are basically 4 types of such publications (i) General interest or Consumer (ii) Business or Professional (iii) Newsletters and (iv) In-House mags for organizations.

Muhammad Haruna, Prof. Abdallah,
Dr. Balarabe & Tijjani M.
On Editing and Producing a magazine he said unlike a newspaper where little time is available to write a story because of the need to go to press on a daily basis, there is more time to carefully develop an article in magazines either of weekly, monthly or quarterly issues. He talked about 3 main point to be wary of by any writer; an accute observation, skillful interviewing ability and secondary source of information i.e. research, find out as much as one can about what he or she is going to write about and then set the mind to achieve the objective desired of the piece.

Lead Time (the time one gets the assignment to the time the publication goes to press) is very crucial he emphasized. Next Muhammad Haruna hyped upon thinking through what message the writer aims to deliver, after which one should do an outline to determine the sequence to take in writing the piece and then the writing is done followed by the review, which should be done again and again, because each time a writer reviews his article, he will find a mistake or two or even a better way to say one thing or another. He also made mention of how significant a House Time of a magazine is.

Muhammad Haruna, Prof. Abdallah
& Tijjani M.
He advised that KISS is a vital key for good writing. It is an abbreviation standing for "Keep It Short and Simple" and also said a good writer should use words that an average everyday person will understand. Not subject people to having a dictionary by their side to read an article. Malam Muhammad strongly recommended 2 books titled ELEMENTS OF STYLES by Struck and White and HOW TO BE A NIGERIAN by Enahoro for any aspiring writer due to their clarity and diction.

Stooping to the giant
Muhammad Haruna
Management of a magazine is a huge challenge and the speaker listed 4 units as fundamental to a management set up of a magazine producing organization. They are (i) Editorial (ii) Marketing (iii) Circulations and (iv) Adverts. He briefly talked about brand extension and other advantages to be taken with the success of a franchise. Knowing the various resources required to run the set up must not be under-estimated, as well as the material cost of such stuffs for production of the magazine.

The Prof. explaining his
case to the Guest Lecturer
Mr. Haruna impressed upon the attendance that it was mistakes in the management aspect that was their water-loo with the Citizen Magazine project. He recalled that though they were very successful as an editorial team, lack of managerial skills and experience made them concentrate on not compromising the quality of their literary output, but neglected this very important aspect of running a magazine. He said they even suggested getting some experts to be co-opted on to the team to help deal with management issues and they were quite willing to submit to their demands, but unfortunately not enough attention was paid to the initiative and the rest was history.

Prof. Abdallah
emphasizing a point
Finally the issue of ethics and law was presented by the guest lecturer, where he said the Codes of Ethic for journalism practices in Nigeria must be well known by any serious minded magazine production outfit to avoid litigations and other legal matters. The Nigerian Constitution as it affects Freedom of Information Act and other rules and regulations of monitoring agencies and organizations such Nigerian Press Organization (NPO), In-House Code of Ethics such as Nigerian Union of Journalists etc must all be studied and adhered to.

Thereafter, an hour of questions and answers followed. Here Prof. Abdallah Uba Adamu opened up the session by expressing his delight at meeting Muhammad Haruna for the very first time and then expressed his points like the pinnacle of intellectualism that he is. He expressed his disappointment at how certain feminine magazines instead of addressing important women issues, are instead concentrating on beautification subjects of the female body. This he found as a waste of an opportunity to better the lot of women in general and thus a dismay to feminists like him who would rather want to see women fully presented as a positive force to be reckoned with in today's society.

Dr. Hamisu Muhammad Sani
asking a question
Others asked their questions one after the other, before answers were given. Bala Muhammad, formerly of Kano State Films Censorship Board, now a lecturer in the establishment wanted a Writers Workshop to be organized by the department and literary iconic figures like the guest lecturer be invited to teach or sharpen potential writers abilities to write just like it is obtainable in other parts of the country and the world. Malama Ruqayya Y. Aliyu, also a lecturer of the BUK Mass Communication Department wanted to know which is the best way to curtail the new problem of internet reporting credibility. A situation where virtually every Tom, Dick and Harry with a smart phone and an internet connectivity is now a news reporter and gets to upload breaking news without verification for people to lap it all up.

Bala Muhammad cracking
a joke behind the icon
I on my part demanded to know why foreign media tend to always portray news about Nigeria from a negative perspective using demeaning images, pictures and descriptions. Then what advice does he have for students who will be graduating from the department about the current trend where many if not all magazine publications are now moving online, contrary to the previous practice where Mass Communication graduate expect to be employed by physical publication houses?

After the lecture, guests and
the academic staff walking out
The guest lecturer answered each questioner appropriately and eventually the whole occasion was wrapped up with a vote of thanks cum speech given by the departmental Head Dr. Balarabe Maikaba, who extended an invitation to Muhammad Haruna to come into the university's Mass Communication department and do this lecture delivery thing on a regular basis and eventually as a lecturer to enrich the students of the department with his vast experience in the field of journalism.

Dr. A. D. Alhassan (right) as
Muhammad Haruna finally leaves 
Photos session closed the event.

(c)(r) 2014 Tijjani Muhammad Musa
All Rights Reserved