Newspaper business will remain despite social media – Panellists

Mr. Siyabongo Africa

Mr. Siyabongo Africa

DESPITE the expansion of social media platforms globally, newspapers will remain in business to serve generations yet unborn, according to panellists of the just-ended Highway Africa conference held in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) in South Africa.

They said that corporate entities and individuals would continue to access newspapers for more authentic news in the wake of the social media growth.

The Programme Officer of Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), Siyabongo Africa, who led a discussion on ‘Entrepreneurial Journalism’ pointed out that social media platforms were precarious and always changing, unlike the editorial policies of newspapers.

The MDIF, formerly Media Development Loan Fund, is a New York-registered non-profit organisation and mission-driven investment fund that provides low-cost financing to independent news and information businesses in challenging environments, mostly in countries with a history of media oppression.

According to MDIF programme officer, the current social media trend was, however, a call on the traditional media to sit up and change their reporting styles to meet the emerging realities of the news market.

On funding for newsrooms, Siyabongo Africa insisted that there were definitely new revenue opportunities in the forms of advertisements which came with innovations, in contemporary corporate communities.

He cautioned against donor funding for newsroom activities, saying that such arrangements were not sustainable.

“Grants are not business models, so get other revenues as well,” Siyabongo Africa told the gathering.

Other topics addressed at the conference included: Supporting Digital Media Innovation in Africa, Freedom of Information and Digital Rights in Africa, Digital Citizenship, and Social Media: Bullying Harassment and Silencing of Voice. What is to be done? among others.

The event was supported by Absa, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, OSISA, Action Aid, Sanlam, US Embassy, Harare, Oxfamlbis and SAfm in collaboration with the Rhodes University, Makhanda.

It had the theme: Digital Citizenship, The Challenging Relationship of Media and Society and was attended by about 120 journalists from 10 West, East and Southern African countries, including Ghana.

FROM ALBERTO MARIO NORETTI, MAKHANDA

 

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