Another truth: the courage to start printing the newspaper for sale was not there. Having been involved in the business of journalism for about three decades, and having known what newspaper houses go through in the hands of vendors and advertisers, it was not encouraging to start the printing of TNN. But something happened on September 21, 2013, a day after I and my wife celebrated our wedding anniversary. We were involved in a serious accident that would have taken our lives. Our car flew into the bush on the Ogoni Road, somersaulted many times before settling down by the side of a tree. When we came out, almost unhurt, the words of the late Dr Myles Munroe came alive to my ears. It was a reminder of what I was told to do some years back. Munroe, in an interview I had with him, had said the cemetery was the riches places on earth, where ideas were buried with the owners of the ideas.
While I stood on that lonely, busy road that night, a voice kept telling me about the TNN dream and why it was time to do something about the dream. By the time I got home, ideas on how to start had started coming.
That was how I went public with the advertisement for employment of reporters and editors. And then there was this assurance that kept coming: He that started it, would perfect it. It is about five years now since I decided to give expression to the TNN dream, even with the oddities. And in truth, the last five years have been interesting. Very interesting.
Our debut edition was dated November 13, 2013. That edition was something else. We had serious hiccups trying to produce. By midnight on the eve of our debut, we were still in the newsroom, still battling with the stories on the computer. We needed to have a clean, near- perfect copy. We also needed to have the newsprint different from what those in Port Harcourt and other parts of the region were already used to. Achieving that feat also caused a serious delay. And then our printing machine decided to misbehave that day. After we dealt with that one, the generator also came up with its own challenge. It was an experience indeed. If all the challenges that arose that day were to discourage us and dampen our spirit, it was too late. Because we had made up our mind that TNN must debut. And it did.
Since then, we have grown from strength to strength. One year after our debut edition, we won an award as the best in the region. The following year, we won the same award, back to back, courtesy of the Bayelsa Media Awards.
Even in the midst of the so-called recession, we have not failed to be on the streets of Cross River, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa. We have received calls from the high and the mighty, urging us on. We have received patronage in the form of adverts, copy sales, bulk subscription and all.
In all, I can say that we are making steady progress. The money may not have come in yet, as expected. We may not have broken even. We may not have been known by everybody in the region. But we cannot say that we are still where we were five years ago, when the first copy hit the streets.
As the vision bearer, publisher and editor-in chief, I must thank the team so very much. Words will fail me to appreciate all those who have worked here. Many of the staff that joined, thinking they had come for a tea party used the exit door when they could not longer cope. Many left because they were unable to understand and flow with our vision to have a newspaper that is produced with professional contents. Others are no more because they felt they could get it better somewhere else. In TNN, we keep telling ourselves that it is where we groom men and women who are ready and willing to do what others dread in the promotion of journalism ethos.
When we started, we were in a rented apartment. But today, grace has made it possible to move into our permanent office complex, which also houses our sister company, the printing arm of our media empire, Omegaprints and Events Ltd. This is a story for another day....