My Favourite websites right now and why you should check them out

It was the New York Times obituary of Elie Wiesel that got me thinking, last week, about the importance of that one final piece of writing that seeks to sum up a person’s entire life and essence.

I read a lot of NYT obituaries (well, I read a lot of NYT!) and was thinking aloud on Twitter, about how one should hope to live long, and accomplish enough, to deserve an NYT obituary, when Tolu Ogunlesi mentions that, actually, only The Economist’s obituaries are ‘to die for’.

So I went and registered on The Economist and began the process of reading myself to stupor.

If you love biographies but rarely find time to read full books, I recommend the obituary sections of NYT and Economist. One of the best ways to know and learn, I have found, is by taking a glimpse into the lives of thinkers and doers, and finding things you never expected to find.

But I’m not always reading profiles and obituaries.

Take a look at , the interesting website from Big Cabal media.  Yes, I know a certain OMG is trying to position itself as the Buzzfeed of Africa. Good PR move. But the only buzz on the ground here, is from Zikoko. If you’ve been complaining about lazy, unimaginative journalism, about plagiarism and anywhere-belle-face reporting, I suggest you open your (Facebook or Twitter) window and ask your neighbours ‘what is Zikoko’? You’re guaranteed to be converted. , from Red Media, is also going where many failed to go. Young Nigerians are bored and impatient and excitable. They’re increasingly attracted to platforms like Snapchat and Instagram because they’re fun and easy to use. PJ is using this understanding to deliver the kind of content that’ll make even jealous.

If I were to invest my dollars in any websites right now, Zikoko and PartyJollof will definitely be getting that call.

Add  to that list. (Disclosure: Newsroom is a BHM website). I rarely visit Nigerian websites for business or political news. Apart from The Punch, I find most human interest journalism here gross and click-baity, so I generally stay away. But I read the pieces on Newsroom, and I see journalism that grips, that seeks to provoke emotions and action; that understands me and the challenges of living in 2016 Nigeria; that seeks to help me and my government know and understand what’s happening, I think of Newsroom and I jump for joy.

The only thing that comes close is The Cable. I’ve liked Simon Kolawole’s style since I was a columnist at THISDAY. You can see, through the investigative journalism, the profiles, the news angles and the decency on The Cable that Simon understands what works. You can tell that, unlike other websites I may not be naming today, there’s likely no hidden agenda behind their journalism. If THISDAY were to even take digital journalism seriously, The Cable would be an amazing teacher.

I hate to admit it. But I spend a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter. I may not say much, but I’m there. Scrolling through news feeds and trying to see the world through the eyes of ‘friends’ I may not speak with for months. Because my life is on-the-go, I find both websites useful for staying informed. Brexit? FB and Twitter told me where to get all the gist. Theresa May and South Sudan and Skye Bank? I found all my leads on FB and Twitter. BlackLivesMatter? Twitter and FB. Also importantly, I’m only able to keep in touch with industry news from PR, advertising, media and entertainment because I have learnt to follow relevant people and set notifications where necessary.

Speaking of PR – the CIPR website is a good place to spend a lot of time. I mean A LOT  OF TIME. It’s what Nigeria’s NIPR should be like when she grows up. IF.

And is what Nigeria’s Businessday should and could be. Business Day is one of my favourite newspapers here. But I struggle with the (now paywalled) website. FT on the other hand, has been giving me orgasm for years. I may cheat regularly with, I may even browse Bloomberg and elsewhere, but it is not for lack of satisfaction from FT. It is I who cannot keep my kini in one place.

Of course you know of QZ and Vice and HBR? Fantastic!

Whatsapp is not a website so I’ll not be listing it here. But if Zikoko and Newsroom and Facebook and Twitter were to know how much time I spend on Whatsapp, they’ll likely be setting fire to the app’s servers. I dumped BBM for Whatsapp nearly three years ago and it’s the best relationship decision I’ve taken in a while. I hear there are still many of you on BBM, that’s fine. Please stay there before you come and join those people calling Whatsapp ‘wosup’. Sigh.

Can I say Orin, Sabinews, Thenetng and TNS also belong on this list without anyone accusing me of shameless plug? I can’t? Oh, I can? Are you saying I can add them? Or the T in your can’t is just silent? What-ever!



I Still Hate Awards. But I Love Toni Kan

Toni Kan, Peju Akande, Ayeni Adekunle & Azu Arinze

I’ve been turning down awards for as long as I can remember.

I have nothing against celebrations and decorations. But I am of the opinion that Nigerians celebrate a lot of what would ordinarily pass as mediocrity.

I hold a belief: Too many awards and medals have ruined several brands and careers that otherwise may still have been around today. Think of the 90s and 2000s super banks. Think of the stars of yesteryears. Think of all the big brands and their MDs and all the accolades – then think of the crumbling that followed.

So while one is still dreaming and building, it has been my way to avoid any event that suggests ‘washing’. I’ve not come all the way from Okokomaiko, working since 1995, only to get here and be distracted by some plaques and praises suggesting I’m close to being the best in my field – when I’ve not even started!

But, Just as my friends, Abisoye Fagade, Gbemi Olateru-Olagbegi and co embarrassed me with a surprise birthday gig three years ago, Toni Kan and his team set a trap for me last week and I walked into it.

Managing Partner, SabiNews, Toni Kan & CEO, BHM Group, Ayeni Adekunle

Managing Partner, SabiNews, Toni Kan & CEO, BHM Group, Ayeni Adekunle

I became a writer by reading. And Toni Kan was one of those who shaped my early writing. It’s possible I’ve read everything he’s ever written, but we didn’t become friends until recently. I can’t even remember how it happened.

But I remember clearly now, how he offered to postpone the anniversary celebration for SabiNews because I was away in London. I remember how he called to request I attend the event with my wife. I remember how he asked – almost frantically – if I was cancelling, when I called hours to the dinner on Friday May 22.

How come it didn’t occur to me that maybe this man was up to no good?

You can’t imagine how much I wanted to disappear from that room when he and his partner Peju Akande sandwiched me and opened a plaque with my name on it. ‘SabiNews Man of the year‘.

Of course I don’t think it’s a honour well deserved. And I am, of course, still embarrassed!

(L-R) Chairman of SabiNews, Niran Adedokun; Managing Partner SabiNews, Toni Kan; Managing Editor SabiNews, Peju Akande & Publisher Yes! magazine Azu Arinze at the presentation of Sabinews 'Man of the year' plaque to Ayeni Adekunle.

(L-R) Chairman of SabiNews, Niran Adedokun; Managing Partner SabiNews, Toni Kan; Managing Editor SabiNews, Peju Akande & Publisher YES! Magazine Azu Arinze at the presentation of Sabinews ‘Man of the year’ plaque to Ayeni Adekunle.