NEW YORK — New Nigerian newspapers have said they will launch online and mobile advertisements in an effort to counter the government’s crackdown on dissent.
The National News Agency, the government-controlled news agency, announced on Monday that it will begin publishing daily content on its website and mobile app, which will feature daily editorials, news reports, opinion pieces and political commentary.
The new advertising is a step toward addressing concerns among Nigerian media outlets that the government is targeting their editorial independence.
The government’s latest campaign comes as the agency’s staff has dwindled as the government has cracked down on news outlets, including the Associated Press, Associated Press International and APTN.
“We are here to provide you with the news of the day,” said an agency spokesman, referring to news content.
“We want you to get to know us and the agency more intimately.
We want you, as an audience, to know how we work.”
The National News agency, which was established in 1957, is an official news agency that has been controlled by the government since 1979.
The agency’s website, thenafs.com, says it is a “independent, national news service” that “provides an alternative source of news and information for the nation and for its citizens.”
The agency is the only one of Nigeria’s three news agencies to be licensed under the government.
In 2017, the National Press Club, an organization that provides journalists with training and resources, filed a lawsuit against the agency, claiming that it was being pressured to adopt “an aggressive agenda that threatens the independence of news organizations and undermines their role as a vital source of information.”
Last year, the agency had to shut down as a result of a dispute over editorial guidelines and restrictions on its reporters’ access to sources.
It is also the only government agency that is permitted to publish in English and is required to publish stories that appear in the English language.
While Nigeria’s government has sought to control the media through the use of its own legal powers, the New York-based National Press Association says it has been forced to confront the country’s political and social reality as the country has become more unequal.
In an interview with The Associated Press in January, President Goodluck Jonathan said the country was “looking for the right balance between the rights of individuals and the rule of law.”
He said the government wanted “to be able to protect the public from what it sees as the threat of an extremist government.”
Newspaper advertising in Nigeria is largely free.
However, advertising can be purchased by the National Newsagency or by third parties, such as mobile app operators.