The long road ahead in disrupted media world

Odoobo C. Bichachi

What you need to know:

  • ... but NMG journalists have a solid anchor in the editorial policy to deliver to our audience quality and trusted content.

There has been a lot of doomsday talk about the future of journalism, particularly newspapers. We have heard predictions of the impending apocalypse, not without reason, of course. 

The global media trends have not been good. But in between the dark and gloom, there have been flashes of “never say die!”

Two comments that clearly speak to the latter caught my eye as I read an article, “Extra! New strategies for survival by South Carolina newspapers,” by Ted Koppel on He was quoting Pierre Manigault, chairman of Evening Post Industries which owns a string of newspapers.

Asked, “Ten years from now, are newspapers gonna be a thing of the past?” He responded: “Time will tell. But I think that there’s a second life for newspapers. I think that we’ll survive this. It’s an evolution, and newspapers just need to evolve to the new digital world. And I think we’re well on our way to doing that.”

This is the optimism that is driving the media today, especially print media, and is the reason the transition to digital journalism has become central to legacy media. So like other media worldwide, Daily Monitor, which remains the most visited local website in Uganda, is fortifying itself to leverage these opportunities the digital world has to offer.  

Which brings me to Manigault’s second comment that caught my eye.  Responding to the question of revenue, which like audiences, has been reducing over the years, he said: “Newspapers were a great vehicle for advertising; that’s gone. So, now you have to go back to what the roots of journalism are, and that’s content and information that people can’t get anywhere else.”

Perhaps this, now, is the real meaning of the famous adage in the media; “Content is king!” The content, of course, must be built on sound journalism that is trusted and accountable.

At the NMG, this is grounded in the core values of the Editorial Policy Guidelines as noted below;

-Veracity and accuracy in reporting are an integral part of our editorial policy and editors are required to only publish that which they believe to be true, fair and accurate with every effort being made to ascertain the factual accuracy of articles through, for instance, cross-checking of facts and the mandatory use of recording devices.

In this regard, all NMG journalists, including editors, must have a comprehensive appreciation of the law, particularly the areas of law relating to defamation, contempt, privacy, data protection, children’s rights and copyright. NMG has an in-house legal team to review content and advise on its compliance with libel laws.

-We nurture a rigorous discipline requiring the selection of content purely on the basis of its inherent news value and not to appease, augment or respond to political, commercial or any other interests.  Editors and journalists must test the value of each story, report or article by interrogating the extent to which it satisfies the “so what?” question.

-In our content management, we take great care to differentiate clearly between views and opinion on the one hand and news and reportage on the other.  For the former, whether they are the opinions of external/guest contributors or of the Group itself, it is a requirement that they be clearly identified in their designated spaces. In the case of contributors, their articles must carry their real names – not pseudonyms –, a biographical line setting out their credentials and, where appropriate, political stance and affiliation. For broadcast programmes, a disclaimer is necessary where the views expressed do not reflect those of the Group.

In general, though, the trend must be towards a wise mix and balance of reporting, analysis and interpretative journalism to help our audiences and readers better understand the issues that are part of their everyday lives.

It will be a long road ahead with many turns and twists in this hugely disrupted media landscape, but NMG journalists have a solid anchor in the editorial policy to deliver to our audience quality and trusted content.

Fidelity to it as well as innovation is all it will take to cross the multifaceted digital river.

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