Opinion

Navigating through coronavirus pandemic:Fides makes new inroads

By Precious Ukeje

A wise man once insinuated that time remains constant and never diminishes, even though it moves; it is we humans that diminish and not remain. There is a tendency to agree with him because as time goes on, we never find time to decay; it is humans who either grow old or out of fashion and in the extreme, even die, especially when there is no effort from them to meet up with the demands of time and vogue.

Emergence of Coronavirus

In the light of the above, the advent of the coronavirus and its subsequent declaration as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, WHO, at a time caused a shutdown of the entire world, allowing movement for only people referred to as those on essential duties.

This created pandemonium among several individuals, organizations and governments across the globe, and appeared as it was going to stay for a short time. However, the world was in for a dire show of unimaginable surprises. The pandemic came, stayed longer than thought, and of late, has appeared to have even been accepted as part of our daily living, as governments of the world can no longer put up with shutting down their economies.

Agencies have gradually resumed operations, but the most striking thing is that many organizations and individuals sought means to move their businesses and operations from offline where there was little to nobody approaching them for patronage anymore, to online where people preferred to spend  most of their times.

Fides Faces the Challenge

Fides Media, a topnotch media production company, and Social Communications Department of the Catholic Diocese of Awka, was equally affected, to such a point that it had to shut down operations in the whole of the month of April in the heat of the pandemic, following government’s order for everyone to stay at home. They would soon take the bull by the horn and tilted their movement towards the rave of the moment.

While many companies and individual businesses crumbled, others were reported in the period to have made more fortune than when activities were carried out offline. Companies that provided services such as video conferencing – Zoom, Duo, Google Meet, etc. – were reported to have skyrocketed in popularity and earnings in the period. And as if that was not enough, Jeff Bezos, Chief Executive Officer of Amazon, a company that provides cloud computing services, recently raked in as much as over 13-billion dollars. This is no child’s play. There must be something he did right. Voila! Bezos thrives online.

For its part, Fides Media would not let its businesses crumble. No! Not under the watch of a tech savvy director, Reverend Fr Martin Anusi, Ph.D., and the team of brilliant priests who work with him in the Management Team. He is known for addiction to excellent productivity and abhorrence to excuses.

He was quoted in the June 7-13 newspaper of Fides to have said that for the upgrade and sustenance of Fides operations, as well as maintenance of favourable competition, new initiatives had to be taken by the company.

It will be not be unfair to add that the company boasts of intelligent staff, some of whom are committed to the growth of the organization that provides the take home pay which takes them home. Some of these staff members, especially of the News and Editorial Department, would in a first online meeting, marshal out ideas on how the company could deepen its footprint in the digital space.

Lessons to Be Learned

There are lessons to learn from the footsteps of Fides, especially by Small and Medium Scale Enterprises. This is not because what they do is new, but because they have become a reference point in the comity of Social Communication Directorates of Catholic Dioceses across Nigeria.

On weekly basis, if not daily, Fides is greeted with an inundation of thumbs up for well done jobs. They are congratulated for taking steps which obviously are deepening their footprints in the digital space.

As an addendum to other activities Fides has taken on, which will be discussed later, that have given it a position in the digital space, which by the way, is magnanimous enough to contain any one who worked for a seat there, Fides made a great choice of an e-projects personnel in Joseph Ekwunife, who was absorbed in the job with the help of his predecessor, Michael-Jude Nwolisa, who moved ahead to work for the former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi.

Ekwunife has a way of interpreting everything contained in a brief and giving it such expression than just the ordinary.

Back to the matter! The lockdown unlocked untold creativity as everyone needed to make effort to see that the vision of Revd Fr Anusi materialized. Most of the operations of Fides then moved online.

First Virtual Meeting and Beyond

Some of the things they did after arising from the first virtual meeting was to make all reporters work from wherever they were. Alas, such was possible even in Nigeria where mobile networks concomitantly fluctuate to a fault. One of the first reports that hit the Fides Facebook space at that time was that of ravaging hunger among inmates of the Daughters of Mary Mother Mercy (Orphanage Home), Amawbia, written by Alexander Johnson Adejoh and Precious Ukeje and the response it drew from readers pointed to one thing: the dawn of a new thing had just begun.

Furthermore, the e-projects personnel continued to put these stories gathered in that period and made them available in the Fides website. But, it was obvious that the Facebook posts received more audience than even the website and other social media handles of Fides Media. Thanks to the video production unit too which continued to generate content and put up on the Facebook page.

Live Streaming

Fides also diversified into Live streaming of events online. It began with the facebook ‘Go Live’ mode, where reporters used their phones to stream events for online viewership.

Fides however, upgraded by launching streaming midgets to further enhance the projection of events both online and offline (outdoor viewing)        

Trends in Anambra – A New Initiative

In the midst of these, an initiative was born by Mercy Hill and the execution began with herself, Alexander Johnson Adejoh, Precious Ukeje and Francis Nwankwo, with help from Emmanuel Oreoluwa Adegboye called, ‘Trends in Anambra’. It is a visual content of the Fides Media which features the perception and opinion of Ndi Anambra on issues of public importance.

Post lockdown, the first video of this which was made, featured the effects of the lockdown occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic where the trio of Mercy, Alex and Precious, alongside Oreoluwa, ran into an aged woman, Madam Maria Nwaobachili, who spoke of her experience during the lockdown distraughtly, and when this was published, the entire social media – from Twitter, to Instagram, through Facebook – was awash with the pathetic condition of the woman. This would turn out to announce Fides Media on the international community.

People called in from different parts of the world to confirm the veracity of the video and to help the woman. The Women’s Affairs and Social Development Ministry, headed by Lady Ndidi Mezue, reached out to the woman, as well as Senator Stella Oduah, E-money and many others.

One would think Fides would be done with that story, but that was not to be the case. Fides followed the story and most importantly, sought and did find means to manage the surge which the elderly woman was prone to face through incessant phone calls and scammers who would want to use the opportunity to shine in their crooked practices. This was well managed. Fides is getting it.

Content Generation

Content, in no small way, has proven to be king in the practice of media production, and from left, right and centre, Fides began to churn out contents which mostly are published on its Facebook Page which has now become another news hub entirely with over 10 thousand followers and nearly same number of likes.

On the 1st of June, 2020, in a general meeting of the staff and Management of Fides Media, Fr Anusi announced that the Fides YouTube channel had been qualified by YouTube to get a customized URL: www.youtube.com/fidesnigeria; and added that traffic to all the social media pages of Fides rose in an incredible manner within the period and counting.

Fides Media Mobile App

Enter, the Fides Media Mobile App developed by the e-projects personnel and published on Google Play Store for easy accessing by clients and anyone who wishes to obtain any of the Fides Media services. The App provides access to the entire services provided by Fides Media.

More Dynamic and Interactive Website

In addition to this, the company has moved its website from php to WordPress and has redesigned it to become the cynosure of all eyes. It is typically, what a news website should look like; and condensing her former three websites into one. All thanks to coronavirus and the commitment of Fides Management and staff.

The Facebook Page of Fides, today, is awash with other contents such as ‘Did You Know?’; ‘Catholic Teachings’; ‘Saint of the Day’; ‘Know Your Parish’; and most recently, the Fides Media News Flash, a visual content of Fides Media which brings to audience, highlights of the Fides Newspaper weekly.

In the past six weeks, the Fides Media News Flash which has been presented by four different persons: Mercy Hill, Precious Ukeje, Chimezie Ibedu and Onyinye Okonkwo, has received close to 10 thousand views and counting.

Online Subscription of Fides Newspaper and Bulletin

For ease of access, Fides Media has also opened up subscription of soft copies of its newspaper and bulletins, which are accessible online via its website, www.fidesnigeria.org.

Agrobusiness

Beyond media production, Fides Media has also ventured into food frontiers, where it is committed without losing sight of its primary purpose, to providing food for the community through thorough hygienic and organic farming managed by the indefatigable Revd Fr Pio-Anthony Okafor.

Indeed, there is more to what meets the eyes; so much hard work is put in on the inside for the emergence of what is seen on the outside.

Applause

From all quarters, applause has reeled out for Fides Media and more drums are being beaten as it continues to take the centre stage with all of its operations. And even if at any time, Fides has cause to go back offline, which is not even within its thought purview, as Fr George Adimike wrote in one of his articles in Fides Newspaper, ‘The Internet neither forgives nor forgets’, the internet will never forget that Fides Media stepped stamped its foot on it and made indelible marks.

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