Digital transformation: Zim Media needs to be contemplative

Earlier this year, I transferred with my former boss from one of the national papers in Zimbabwe. The previous owner was a very familiar person to me. Many times, I have reached out to him for advice, and he has been open, flexible and quick to help. However, today, we disagreed. He acted a bit rude, but I ignored that and continued the conversation.

My former boss said: “Newspapers are here to stay: Forget about new media. Newspapers are not only a source of information but part of a cultural life for some who grew up with only language. the source of news. When fake news comes in, newspapers are the only source of truth.”

He said: “Newspapers (hard copy) are more comfortable to the eyes than reading information on a digital platform. An electronic device like a phone is always dangerous because it has many functions. on.Also, it is difficult to read long passages on the screen.

I almost laughed out loud, but at the same time, I was saddened by this idea, when the new role of the reporter and leader is important to save the news.

In the 20th century, traditional media was everything; from setting the agenda, to creating a framework and deciding how to cover events and information. All this was done without anyone poking their nose into the news business and how the news was reported.

In those days, in our local market hundreds of thousands of copies were sold, although the second edition was sold.

Most enjoyed the 5am newspaper club, and the results were not divided. Newspapers liked the board’s control.

Today no media house in Zimbabwe wants to share circulation statistics, not because they don’t know, but because they are ashamed and sad.

So what’s going on in the media space? Apparently, people don’t really want to change, and even when we see or feel that the situation has changed, we do our best to convince ourselves that things are the same.

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No one is disputing the integrity of traditional media, but the rise of digital has threatened that once-strong fortress. Add the Covid-19 pandemic to the equation, and the media business has changed dramatically and will never be the same.

They are more afraid of the situation, they are afraid of the digital. I know what they say: “Adapt or lose, now, the most important thing in nature”.

Déjà Vu

In most of the stories of the editors and journalists they show frustration and dissatisfaction with the world of mass media, which has been determined by the market and the environment. It is true that a large percentage of the audience spends on the internet.

Why do we fantasize about the beauty of design? And with digital, the user experience can be made seamless. It’s a big lie that cell phones and electronic devices can cause harm. Content can be designed to fit the board.

Digital is not removable

A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows that online advertising revenues will exceed television advertising revenues in Kenya for the first time in 2021 (US $ 144 million online, US $ 98 million TV). The same thing happened in Nigeria in 2019. PwC went on to say that online advertising revenue will be 4.1 times that of television advertising revenue.

At the time, BBC Chief Executive Tim Davie said the British broadcaster plans to become online-only within the next decade.

The founder and CEO of García Media, Mario García advises: “The majority of those who decide on the content of the story are digital natives”.

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García says the newsroom needs to be restructured to include more content managers, whose main role is to compile content, tracking content in different formats; video and audio to enhance. Any natural person who is familiar with the mobile world can collect information about the mobile phone. Mobile journalism is becoming more and more popular as it is the new revolution in content creation; we will remain in the same place until 2023 if we don’t move fast.

To combat fake news, fact-checkers have become commonplace in newsrooms.

Elephant in the room

The chat rooms are very informal. Few journalists can reach management positions without knowing how to manage business or even people. The vice-president of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, Roy Peter Clark wrote: “The qualities that make journalists so good (impulsive, reckless, ineffective) make them bad managers”.

You are a good writer, you are brilliant, you wake up one day, you are a manager, you have no idea where to take the business, you have a smart strategy.

Now it’s worse because most of the speakers are lazy, they are from analog and try to change their behavior when you enter an experiential lecture. “I’ve been doing this for over 30 years, you guys are too young to tell us how to do it; you want to look advanced.”

Today, the news about tomorrow is all over the internet.

And these guys are funny; they still believe it’s too big a story.

But digital allows you to measure impact, engage directly and tell if your content has had an impact or not.

Gone are the days when traditional media used to force audiences to swallow any kind of information just because it was in the news.

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In the current environment, Zimbabwean newsrooms are very print driven from planning to content delivery and digital is an afterthought. It’s just a useless desk sitting behind others waiting to be reprinted.

It will be very difficult to achieve digital transformation in newsrooms without working on an infrastructure that supports digital.

Like it or not, digital is the only game in town.

The rise of mobile journalism can be seen in developing markets. In Zimbabwe we still ask for a census and we really want to see journalists sitting in the newsroom to show that they are hard working people.

To be fair, the current environment in the media world requires new leadership thinking, from planning to strategy. It’s not about writing long winded good pieces that you’re sure will get a good read, it’s about listening to your audience’s requests and curating content for the right platform.

Digital transformation is not what Thomas doubts will be the champion of the process but rather it requires realignment rather than command and control.

The future of the 21st newsroom

The Zimbabwean media has been seen as lacking when it comes to creating new culture and structures. The development of new ideas is pending, and worse, a new culture.

Content is money but it needs to be stronger and more quality innovation is in great demand. Digital transformation is the focus, but it also involves investment in new skills, infrastructure and research. This will propel high-quality journalism into the future of a global audience. To be able to harvest advertising revenue, which is the future revenue stream for digital, more work is required.

These are indeed interesting and important times for journalism.

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