Media must adapt or sink – expert

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Kaleen Chikowore

ECONET Telecom Lesotho this week hosted a one-day media workshop in Maseru to sensitise journalists on the need to adapt to technological advancements in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The workshop ran under the theme, Journalism in the time of Covid-19: how technology is changing the media landscape.

John Mokwetsi, a multiple award-winning Zimbabwean online journalism specialist, was the guest speaker at the event.

Mr Mokwetsi has covered beats that range from arts to information communication technology (ICT). He worked in the media for more than a decade.

Among others, he worked for Bild in Germany, Zanis in Zambia, The Standard, NewsDay and the Daily News in Zimbabwe. Due to his interest and passion in digital media, he became the first web administrator in 2008 for Alpha Media Holdings (AMH). He rose to the post of Online Editor and was responsible for AMH’s digital platforms and social media strategy.

AMH has since become a recognised media house globally for employing the digital first strategy in Zimbabwe.

In 2011 he was awarded the prestigious Chevening scholarship and went on to study for a Master of Arts in Digital Media at University of Sussex in the UK. He is now working in the development sector with his current work still in digital communications with the United Nations.

Mr Mokwetsi said journalists and media organisations must quickly accept change and move with the times in the face of technological advancements.

“Our profession is in danger given the way digitisation is constantly evolving. We must make sure to move with the times,” Mr Mokwetsi said.

“Due to digitisation, there is now a thin line between a journalist and an ordinary citizen. This is because everyone can now disseminate information whether it is true or false. The journalist profession has been reduced to mere verifiers. Journalists are now only used to confirm information therefore; we must rethink ways of innovating our profession and remain relevant.

“We have to make use of YouTube to learn more about digital skills because that is where the world is going. Let us make sure that we are well versed with the information that is technologically relevant to where we are headed to.”

While the scarcity of disposable income for many people who have lost income due to Covid-19 across the world, indications are that streaming services like YouTube and Netflix among others are growing in leaps and bounds because most people are working remotely.

In his keynote address, Econet Telecom Lesotho chief executive officer (CEO) Dennis Plaatjies, said the partnership between the media and telecommunications is important when it comes to digitisation.

He said there was an immediate need to engage the media about the dynamics that have been brought about by technology.

“Telecommunications are the drivers of information, therefore, we realised that it would be ideal if we move together with the media.

“We want to make sure that we are on the same page hence the need to come up with a programme to help media personnel adapt to the new systems.

“We realised that connectivity is one of the major challenges causing slow adoption of digitalisation therefore, as Econet, we took it upon ourselves to ensure people get connected,” Mr Plaatjies said.

Econet has therefore, availed different products that are tailored for different market needs.

He also encouraged the media to come up with initiatives in which they can partner with Econet as an internet service provider (ISP) in delivering services to the respective clientele.

“We are open to working with any media house that is interested. We learnt a lesson during the Covid-19 pandemic that business does not stop and one can work from any geographical location. We have available packages that can cover the needs of different clients despite the size of their organisation.”

Despite the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, Econet has been enhancing its fibre coverage. It now covers Lesia, Thetsane East, Thetsane West, all Masowe extensions, Maseru East, Maseru West, Florida, Arrival Centre, White City, Ha-Hoohlo, Moshoeshoe II, Stadium area, Sea point, Hillsview, Mabote, CBD, Ha-Abia and Khubetsoana.

 

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