Our mindset must shift if we are to save local media

Trainers must tell the learners the truth and train them to fit into the new space. [iStockphoto]

Three more media houses have this past week put out a notice to their employees to expect a restructuring process that will render some of them redundant.

The three add to another two such notices that have been released over the past few months and which continue to signal a very bleak future for the media as an industry and as a potential employer. Coincidentally, the latest notices come at a time when several colleges and universities are holding their graduation ceremonies. It pains to imagine what awaits the thousands of graduates in such an environment. What exactly is the issue here and is there a way out?

One of the issues that I have previously mentioned in this column is that the Government owes the media billions of shillings in pending bills. If this amount is paid, it will ease some pressure on media managers in paying salaries. However, we must admit that the problem with the industry is beyond pending bills. The world of advertising, on which the media feeds, has completely shifted. Most media managers know this already, but have failed to address it satisfactorily.

One of the interventions, as mentioned above, is to restructure and eventually render some employees redundant. Nevertheless, past experience shows that the staff targeted are usually low cadre who do not save the company much money; yet their exit sometimes ends up hurting the companies. When you let go of people who have built their brands over time, the loss is obvious. It is a reality today that influencers are having a field day in the digital marketing space. Media houses can jump on this and use their structures to enhance their employee brands and use them to negotiate for better deals from their clients.

The other reality is that the decision-making process at management level must also change with the times. More and more young people must find their way into the boardrooms. That is, if those at the boardrooms are not humble enough to go and find the young people at their corner desks. Young people are the obvious target of any media transformation and without their involvement, we stand the risk of wasting time in trials and errors. In short, if there is any need to render people redundant, it would rather be at the decision-making level rather than at the execution level.

There are many examples of media institutions that were nearly going under only to be saved by fresh thinking and decisions informed by the desires of the youthful population. Radio Maisha is one of them.

Having said that, media colleges must also relook and reorient the curriculum. Trainers must tell the learners the truth and train them to fit into the new space.

-Writer is News anchor at Radio Maisha