Editors take stock of media landscape
This year's celebration of Press Freedom Day, with the theme ‘Journalism Under Digital Siege’, will spotlight how recent technological developments like monitoring, surveillance, privacy abuses and online harassment impact journalism and freedom of expression.
Namibian Sun editor Toivo Ndjebela said: “We are moving at a good pace. In olden days you needed a radio device to tune into a station’s frequency. Now you can go on Facebook and tune in as they livestream.
“Increase has reached to different audiences at different times. There are obviously limitations as there are people excluded from the benefit of the evolution. Those living in remote areas. They have no internet connection or network coverage. Social issues such as poverty have also exacerbated those who can access news on digital platforms,” Ndjebela said.
He said for young and old journalists to catch up with the fast-moving technological advancement, they need to keep abreast of the upcoming trends.
“But, most importantly, it has to start from college now. Universities and tertiary institutions of higher learning have to adopt the newest technology so when they graduate, they are not caught off guard,” Ndjebela said.
The NBC’s chief news and programming officer, Menesia Muinjo, said at face value one would believe Namibian media houses have transitioned as they have all in some way shape or form taken up space in the digital landscape.
But she was quick to add that should one dig deeper, “we are not moving fast enough.”
She said most media houses are struggling with infrastructure. She said some media houses h
ave limited resources such as good drones for better coverage of live events.
Muinjo said journalists also need to upgrade themselves academically by investing in smartphones.
“Put in your own effort. The employers must give support but where it is not possible, don’t wait. It is not easy but you can reap the benefits and make money from your own smartphone as well. Sometimes investment for a great purpose. There are virtual lessons online and all you need to pay for is the internet to upskill,” Muinjo said.
She added that for journalists to efficiently use the digital platforms, they also need to embrace them efficiently and optimally. Muinjo said there is no point in having WhatsApp as a form of communicating and breaking a news story but you only check the platform hours later.
Yanna Smith, head of news at Kosmos Radio, said Namibian media houses are not moving fast enough. Smith said the problem is the newsrooms in the country are young.
“But that isn’t really a problem in itself, the problem come when newsrooms suffer brain drain. There is no mentorship happening inside newsrooms,” she said.
“I understand the pressure is intense on reporters to produce stories daily but there needs to be shift in the current news production. I am 49 and I still call the veterans for guidance. The degrees from Unam are great and relevant but they’re not good enough to teach you some of the dos and don’ts to get the story,” Smith said.
She said in this digital era, reporters chase a story and they expect what they covered on Monday at 18:00 to be relevant at 06:00 on Tuesday. That, she said, cannot be possible because the news would have circulated the entire night and audiences are looking for something new.
“Social media is moving at a fast pace. Mentorships should be emphasised so that stories are not falling flat or lacking in-depth reporting. Its relevant to do follow-ups on stories but it’s not good enough. Audiences deserve fresh, in-depth news which can be distributed on digital platforms, not just the traditional way, which is currently putting financial pressure on media houses,” Smith said.
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