Can we survive the “Attack” of Big Tech?

By Azu Ishiekwene

“Every morning a lion wakes up, it knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve to death…It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle, you better be running”

First attributed to Dan Montano in The Economist, but popularised by Thomas Friedman in The World is Flat.

If, 20 years ago, you asked me whether big technology (or big tech) companies were a threat to journalism, my answer would have been an emphatic yes. After all, these companies do our job without our job description. They also disrupt the media space while taking little responsibility for content.

Perhaps I should explain that there is a slight difference in form, but not always in substance, between big tech and big search engines.

While big tech could sometimes be a dominant player in information technology hardware, like Samsung, or in e-commerce, like Amazon, search engines are software monsters although both core hardware and software providers in this field have the capacity as we have seen, for forward or backward linkages. I will focus more on search engines, at least a few in the big league that have significantly disrupted our work, for good or ill.

I’m sure you know them – Google, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Yahoo, YouTube, Baidu and so on. Please don’t add MySpace to this list; it died before they could write our obituary.

The buzz-word these days, is “sustainability.” What does it mean? One of the most practical definitions I have seen is, “sustainability consists of fulfilling the needs of the current generation without compromising the needs of future generations.”

As to whether big tech poses an existential threat to the survival of the Nigerian media and the way out, if indeed such a threat exists, we shall see soon enough.

How media earns

Traditional media’s two basic sources of revenue are advertising and circulation or subscription sales. On the face of it, the fear of a journalistic doomsday appears justified in light of catastrophic declines in revenues from these two major sources of media income. Continue reading 


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