‘We’re taking the NYSC bus’ our cds supervisor announced in a tone of finality. We had been planning this tour of the Nation newspapers for some time, and finally, the day of the visit had arrived and we were good to go.

Eight corps members of the Editorial CDS group, our supervisor and another staff of NYSC made the journey to the Matori office of the paper. We were received by Mr. Lekan Otunfodunrin the Online Editor (formerly Sunday Editor) of the newspaper. He acted as our tour guide and liaison.

Mr Lekan told us that The Nation newspaper is owned by Vintage Press which also publishes Sporting Life sports paper. Both papers published by the press run on weekdays and weekends. Then he gave us a brief history of the Paper.

The Nation Newspaper started on the 31st July 2006. It has offices nationwide, and runs three simultaneous publishing points in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt to service their readers and make the paper readily accessible.
He said the Lagos printing point supplies the southwest region of the country and Ilorin. The Abuja point serves all the northern region whilst the Port Harcourt point serves the entire East and south south region. The Paper is one of the few news dailies to have that feature as most in the country print all their papers from one location and fly/distribute the papers to other Regions.

The Advantages of having several printing points is that it gives the Press the freedom to print localized stories to a certain region of the country, if it is not national news. Thus they are able to publish stories germane to locales simultaneously on the same day. Their papers arrive at the vending stands early as their distribution network is really close to the reader.

The paper does a feature 16-page on education called Campus Life on thursdays. This covers news stories and events happening in and around tertiary institutions in Nigeria. They accept and publish write-ups from undergraduates who have pertinent stories. As a budding writer, I was hard pressed about this information. If I had known back in school, maybe I would have my name in print now. I brushed the angst aside and continued listening to the very instructive Mr Lekan.

He showed us their newsroom which was a tad quiet as most of the journalists report late to the office having gone to secure news worthy stories and events. They work mostly from afternoons till very late in the night. The newsroom has three sections, weekdays, saturdays and sundays. Then we went to the printing press where he showed us the machines, papers and instructed us on the workings of the machines.

After that we had come full cycle and made our way back to the parking lot where he told us that journalists today have to be very cerebral people who have the technical know-how to write and plan the pages of the newspaper because according to him planning is key.

He also fielded questions and admonished us on life as corpers and thereafter, claiming the service could be regarded as the best time in a person’s life. We’ll see about that, eventually. School life is still leading the pack, but it wasn’t that long ago, maybe in a few years, I’d share his wisdom; until then.

As we thanked him profusely and got back into the bus on our way back to the secretariat and home, I couldn’t help smiling and being grateful to God, and the corps member who actually made the visit a reality. It was indeed an intellectual and eye opening trip.

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