World Association of News Publishers

Nation Media Group: Learning from Experience

Nation Media Group: Learning from Experience

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Facilitating exchange, setting a positive example for other media and promoting press freedom is integral to WAN-IFRA’s partnerships with media houses around the world. This month, we look at the Nation Media Group, based in Nairobi, Kenya, which has exemplified its commitment to media freedom.

By Colette Davidson

The Nation Media Group (NMG) has earned its reputation for promoting the free press since it was founded in 1959 by His Highness the Aga Khan. It works to promote transparency and balanced reporting, with the goal of bringing about social, economic and political progress. Since its founding, it has become the largest independent media house in East and Central Africa.

The NMG has been a WAN-IFRA media partner for a number of years. Recently, it took part in two exchange programmes to promote media freedom, working on a “twinning” exchange with Ireland’s The Independent News & Media (INM), as well as welcoming Women in News (WIN) participants for a second twinning programme.

The INM/NMG twinning exchange saw four members of the NMG team – two of which are members of WAN-IFRA’s Strengthening Media & Society (SMS) programme – head to Ireland for peer-to-peer learning in April, where the group shadowed members of the INM to learn from their experience.

“No one better understands the challenges you are facing than someone else in your industry, but often the fierce competition within your national market prevents knowledge share and support,” says Melanie Walker, the Director of Media Development at WAN-IFRA. “Twinning matches media executives and media organisations from non-competing markets to help them overcome this isolation and encourage peer-to-peer exchanges.”

NMG’s Digital Managing Editor Churchill Otieno, who chairs WAN-IFRA’s Media Freedom Committee in Kenya, was a team leader during the INM/NMG exchange. He found that INM was dealing with many of the same challenges as the NMG, despite the two market realities being unique. Most notably, the NMG recently restructured its newsroom to something that closely mirrored what the INM had implemented two years prior. For this and many other reasons, the exchange was meaningful for him both personally and professionally.

“I learned that understanding the audience or customer at a more granular level opens new product andrevenue lines and ultimately may be the key to sustaining independent journalism,” says Otieno.

It wasn’t long before Otieno and the NMG got to be on the other side of the exchange, when in early May a small group of WIN journalists were selected for in-house mentoring and exchange. Otieno joined Web Producer Faith Oneya, Editor of Content Generation Njeri Rugene, Video Editor David Mbewe, Nairobi News Editor Kenfrey Kiberenge, Online Editor Martin Knyanjui, Social Media Editor Augustine Sang and the group’s marketing team to mentor journalists like Faith Zaba.

Zaba, a senior editor at the Zimbabwe Independent and a WIN participant since January of last year, requested to be sent to Kenya due to the country’s vibrant media network. She called the experience “awesome and invigorating.”

“I came back very energised and raring to implement what I learnt from the Nation Group,” says Zaba. “While Zimbabwe is only starting now to catch up to digital marketing, I found that the Nation Group is fast trying to exploit each new invention.”

Lenah Kedikaetswe, Publisher and CEO of Tsatsing Media Botswana, also requested to be sent to Kenya due to her interest in digital media. A WIN member since 2012, Kedikaetswe shadowed people in several departments within NMG, from news planning to business development. There, she got tips on ways to bring more digital platforms to her Tsatsing Media.

“As an avid believer myself of digital media and its great significance to the media industry going forward, I was impressed that some media companies in Africa are already making headway in that platform,” says Kedikaetswe. “Therefore, I will continue being in touch with some executives I met there to continue my learning experience of the digital space and how it can be applicable in my market.”

As Kenya’s Nation Media Group continues to set an example of a successful independent media house in Africa, others are sure to follow. With twinning exchanges through the SMS and WIN programmes, participants not only bring back tools to bring about change in their own workplaces but gain new perspectives on media freedom around the world.

“It is very important to always be exploring and learning about the business aspect of the media industry, trends and business models that are coming to play due to the shift in the media industry as well as consumer engagement,” says Kedikaetswe. “It is crucial for one to always be learning about what is happening globally.”


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2017-05-31 10:25

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Hedvig Lundstrom's picture

Hedvig Lundstrom


2016-06-30 12:06

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