Future of print media for news for Uganda – there is none


Call this hard truth and it is.  Might not be gentle but hey, it is your job at stake, not mine.

You print news papers for a population which needs food and cannot afford to pay sh. 3k daily to buy your paper.

Have you noticed your sales going down by any chance?  Thank Mr. Museveni for this phenomenon.

The average human being will do everything to get something for free.  Given the level of poverty in Uganda, what makes you think that you can increase your readership by people going onto the streets to buy your paper?

Many of us grew up on news papers daily and that is how we got our information.  We were readers then or we were forced to read the papers by our parents.  They did very well with us as we did not have the internet that time.

One time when Mini was 6yrs old, she annoyed me and I threatened to sell her on eBay.  Reply “give me 2 days to think about it”.

That day, I returned from work exhausted and the kid looked at me “do you know that it is illegal to sell kids in Canada?”.  I asked her how she knew that (and I had only been joking anyway).  Reply, I Googled it.  She also ordered some things on the internet giving full names, address, etc.. Google.  Do not ignore the power of Google on kids.  I grew up on Yahoo and it took me over 10yrs to open a Gmail account.

These days news travels at the speed of light.  By the time you wake up, go to the office to research the story and request for it to be printed or you write it and post it, we would have already shared it globally.

I now watch some Uganda media houses writing blatant lies which even a kid can cross check.  You people are now dealing with a generation of accomplished researchers who use Google and Wikipedia to check everything you say. Many have friends in many countries and can just text, Facebook, Whatsap, Viber or Snap chat.

Many media houses in Canada have shut down and resorted to online news or consolidated.  We can get information so fast, in fact faster than you can say hello.  So Uganda media houses need to up their game.

The National Post (Canada, Conrad Black) sent me something to commemorate their first 1 million customers when they first went against The Globe and Mail.  The director of the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan (the most lucrative pension plans in Canada) had given us a speech while we were in school.  “Read the local paper from your city, the paper from your province and the paper from the country”.  I had a subscription to The Times and Transcript (Moncton, Canada),  The Telegraph (provincial, New Brunswick Canada) and The Globe and Mail and soon after The National Post daily.  No idea how much I used to pay for them.

Then along comes Huffington Post.  One of the most respected news sources and all online.  I soon cancelled my print subscriptions.  All my news used to come from Huffpost (I have written many commentaries on the one for Canada). When I decided to return to Uganda, all my news also came via online.  Sure, you print some articles in the hard paper which some of us do not get being out of the country but friends tell us.  What a waste!

Not too long after that, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, etc.. all put their news online.  This is the future of news and Uganda needs to pay attention.  In Canada, many can afford the print media but we switched to catching the news online given that every household has computers and all the kids have high end smart phones.

What Uganda is facing now is a big percentage of population who are unemployed but they have phones with FBzero and they used to use those phones and the free app (no MBs) to just chit chat but now, they use those phones to read news and send breaking news.  Know your audience and how they consume your products (your news).

Which takes us to the role of journalists.  The good journalists and reporters will retain their jobs for sure because they were trained for this.  They should, however, keep in mind that anyone can now break the story.

Advice to the Uganda media houses is to pay attention on the evolution of technology and make your social media presence center of your mission.  You will be sorry when you realise that one day you were too arrogant for being a big media house and the future is no longer in your control.  Your population of 70%+ youth will not be buying your print media.

Those who pay attention will also remember that I recently wrote about system maintenance, server upgrades and rolling in changes.  Everything I write connects to something else.  If your clientele relies on your website for news, never have it go down.  There are ways about this.  Do not host your website in a country which can lose power to half the population.  Replicate your site in various locations.  Most web hosters take care of this for you.

Martha Leah Nangalama

Moncton, Canada

The writer has experience in IT, Social Media, writes and blogs.  Find me on Google, Facebook and all social media.

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