Journalism will not die, it is the oxygen of democracy, but will continue to be disrupted, Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) associate professor Admire Mare has opined. He was speaking on Wednesday at a public lecture held in Windhoek titled ‘Taking Stock on the Impact of Digitalisation on the Namibian Media Landscape’ on the sidelines of the 2021 World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) conference, which kicked off in the capital yesterday.
Mare said the revenue crisis has crippled the commercial provision of public interest journalism. “Traditional news organisations are no longer the only go-to platforms for advertisers chasing the eyes and ears of audiences. The crisis is already spawning long-term structural changes - opening doors for a more digital, more mobile, more platform-dominated media environment,” he noted.
Mare said Namibia’s media “has not yet undergone a comprehensive and far-reaching transformative disruption process brought about by digitisation”.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic
has escalated the crisis in journalism as newsrooms are surviving on shoestring budgets, salary and staff rationalisation, falling sales revenue and decreasing circulation figures.
“Both print and broadcast media are on the ropes, reeling from the after-effects of economic recession, digital disruption and Covid-19-induced viability concerns,” Mare said. He thus suggested that media houses recalibrate their business models by thinking without the box, and to come up with creativity and innovation. “National, regional and international quality journalism will survive, but distribution platforms will evolve; some platforms will die,” he said, adding that there is a need for new business models for the country’s journalism landscape.
Meanwhile, Namibia continues to be ranked as the country with the freest media environment in Africa, according to the latest 2020 Press Freedom Index issued by Reporters without Borders.
UNESCO and the government of Namibia are hosting the WPFD 2021 global conference. It started yesterday, and will run until 3 May in Windhoek. The event will be a physical and digital experience, combining virtual and in-presence participation.