Digital media a must for news organisations

August 10, 2011
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, PARIS, France, Aug 10 – News organisations in Africa have been challenged to exploit the advantages presented by the usage of the mobile phone and increase the digital access to news and information.

African Media Initiative (AMI) Chief Executive Officer Amadou Mahtar Ba reckons that the adoption of new technologies such as those presented by the mobile platform is one way that can help these organisations to grow and remain relevant.

“I strongly believe they need to adapt to new technologies – mobile telephony in particular – given the phenomenal adoption and penetration of this technology across the continent,” said Mr Mahtar Ba.

It is this conviction that has seen AMI partner with the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) to develop a handbook that is designed to assist media houses in the region to harness this platform and develop their mobile media and mobile businesses.

The two partners hope that through the ‘Mobile Media Services At Sub-Saharan African Newspapers: A Guide To Implementing Mobile News And Mobile Business”, handbook these organisations will come up with mobile news services that can enable them to survive in the competitive industry and deliver vital information to their consumers.

“We hope this handbook will help African media get started with mobile publishing, both by inspiring and by giving practical tips to help media companies avoid some of the possible hurdles along the way,” said Kristina Bürén, Research Director at WAN-IFRA.

The handbook provides detailed ‘how-to guides’ for potential mobile services African media houses could offer as well as analysis and expert advice covering the key questions that these firms should ask themselves when going into mobile.

The handbook includes case studies gathered through interviews with newspapers in Uganda, Kenya and South Africa, including the Observer and Daily Monitor in Uganda, the Standard and the Daily Nation in Kenya, and Grocott’s Mail, the Mail and Guardian, the Sunday Times and the Sowetan in South Africa, as well as News24.com – South Africa’s biggest online news provider.

Its development is part of WAN-IFRA’s larger Mobile News for Africa project, which aims to test and implement innovative content production and delivery models through new technologies, accompanied by new business models for newspapers in emerging markets and developing democracies.

Through it, the Paris -based WAN-IFRA and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency hope to advance media development and press freedom worldwide.

The handbook can be downloaded at http://www.africanmediainitiative.org/upload/Mobile.pdf.  A print edition will be published and distributed by AMI next month.

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