By Tata Mbunwe
Cameroon’s lone English language daily newspaper, The Guardian Post, is changing the face of print journalism in the country as it launches a Sunday edition, the first since newspapers came to Cameroon.
According to The Guardian Post’s Publisher, Kristian Ngah Christian, the Sunday edition will be devoted to societal issues and religious issues which will enrich people’s lives spiritually.
He says the paper is expected to fill an information gap that usually exists during the weekends, especially on Sundays, when people tend to rely only on social media information which is rather “half-baked”.
“We realized that Cameroonians don’t have what to read on weekends. They rely on social media which of course disseminates news that is half-baked. Even if they listen to the radio or watch television, these two only announce while the newspaper analyses,” Kristian Ngah said.
“The Sunday edition of The Guardian Post is coming to fill that gap. Henceforth, Cameroonians will have something to preoccupy themselves with after Church service,” he added.
Although print journalism has been threatened by social media and people’s increasing reluctance to read newspapers, Ngah maintains The Guardian Post Sunday Edition already has 80 percent of customers as it shall be sold even at the doorstep of Churches.
“It is important to note that the Sunday Edition of The Guardian Post will not only be sold in Churches. It will also be circulated on newspaper kiosks together with the Monday edition.”
He adds that people could also subscribe to an electronic version of the Sunday Edition given that some newspaper kiosks do not open on Sundays.
What makes the Sunday Edition unique?
The Guardian Post says its Sunday Edition is a semi-magazine from its outlook and content, unlike the regular weekday editions.
In an interview with The Guardian Post’s reporter, McWalter Njapteh, Publisher Kristian Ngah says the Sunday Edition will be a rich package that will keep readers busy over the weekends, featuring entertainment, religion, news, and adventure.
The edition will have special columns on love and relationship issues, discovery, celebrities, renowned political and football figures, among others.
“There will also be a column that will feature renowned Heads of State and the life they live after quitting power. Back to Cameroon, we will trace, interview, and run incisive reports about the whereabouts of renowned politicians and businessmen who dominated public life in the yesteryears,” said Kristian Ngah.
He added that the physical appearance of the Sunday Edition will make it unique from the weekday editions of the newspaper.
“… from the front page, the only thing that will make it look like The Guardian Post will be just the name. The colors, layout, and picture presentation will be different. Even the style of reporting will be completely different. The Guardian Post Sunday edition will look more like a news magazine,” the publisher said.
2001-Present: How The Guardian Post Navigates a difficult media terrain
Since its creation, first, as a bi-weekly newspaper, The Guardian Post has been navigating through a difficult print media terrain greatly marred by Cameroonians’ reluctance to buy and read newspapers.
The newspaper was created in 2001 and according to its founder and Publisher, Kristian Ngah, it started operating with a capital of just FCFA 150,000.
Throughout the years, The Guardian Post maintained a “middle-of-the-road editorial policy” and remained critical of the government, but “unpredictable,” says its publisher.
After The Guardian Post went daily in 2016, it has been gaining popularity in the print media landscape and it is the only English language newspaper with an online edition that currently has over 10,000 subscribers, according to its publisher.
“Another advantage is that, of the 10 daily newspapers or so in Cameroon, The Guardian Post is the only one that is published in English. This, notwithstanding that most Francophones, are taking interest in reading The Guardian Post to better their English Language. We have hundreds of Francophone parents who buy The Guardian Post for their school-going children,” the Publisher affirmed.