• July 2nd, 2020

Print media must keep up with evolving digital technology - Jakobs

WINDHOEK – The digital evolution of the past decade or so has radically altered the face of the publishing industry around the world, including in Namibia, thus print media have to keep up with the fast-changing digital technology and be resilient in the face of such changes. This is according to Benjamin Jakobs, Acting CEO of New Era Publication Corporation (NEPC). 

Speaking at the recently ended sixth National ICT Summit in Windhoek, Jakobs said that to survive, newspaper and magazine publishers must develop new digital products that meet or exceed the appetite for online and digital content. He also advised that news corporations must develop a clear strategy around mobile, video, social media, analytics and the user experience to survive the storm of this harsh but exciting technological evolution. 

The NEPC chief noted that with the arrival of innovative ways of spreading news digitally, this evolution has caught many publishing houses, at home and abroad, napping. Jakobs said this means that many media outlets have lost millions of readers, viewers and listeners who migrated to more technically advanced and convenient ways of accessing news.

“Globally, there is a steady increase in the numbers of people accessing news online, while the so-called ‘traditionalists’ – which is people who still prefer their hard newspaper copy – are on a sharp decline in numbers,” said Jakobs. 

He added that three major consequences have emerged from the decline in printed newspaper copies; firstly, the adoption of certain digital technologies by publishing houses meant some people lost their jobs because their traditional roles at such companies were no longer welcome in the digital world.
Secondly, a major consequence was that newspaper sales declined sharply as readers, particularly the so-called millennials, migrated to their devices such as mobile phones to access news. 

“In the Namibian context, this would mean newspaper street vendors would lose their source of income as more and more people snub hard copies for online content,” Jakobs noted.

Thirdly, another major impact was the sharp decline in advertising income for newspapers as corporates took their announcements to online platforms where accessibility is wider and content easily accessible to a bigger audience.

Said Jakobs: “Think about this; a newspaper reader in Katutura may be required to wake up in the morning, and pay N$24 in taxi fares to get to and from a newspaper selling outlet in order to access news or adverting content. Add to this the actual cover price of the newspaper and this imaginary man would have to fork out nearly N$30, taxi fare included.

“Conventional wisdom would then have it that instead of spending that much, the man from Katutura would rather buy a N$5 recharge voucher to access news via the internet. This situation already represents a loss in terms of newspaper sales and therefore a loss of revenue to the publishing house.” 

He added that a continuation of this trend would then mean that media houses would struggle to keep up with their financial obligations, which may lead to job losses, if not closure of the entire institution.
However, not all is doom and gloom, said Jakobs, partly because social media has become home to increasing incidents of “fake news”. Jakobs sees this as an opportunity for traditional print media which can take advantage of this situation by presenting itself as an alternative for reliable and truthful news reporting.

“They must do this by devising agile operating models capable of leveraging advanced technology with the traditional printing model in order to become the best of both worlds,” Jakobs said.

Staff Reporter
2019-10-16 07:18:32 | 8 months ago

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