Making Media Mobile at Sub-Saharan Newspapers

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Aug 09, 2011

A just-published guide from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) is all about making media mobile, specifically at newspapers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The full report is available for download here.

Billed as a guidebook, and not a one-size-fits-all rulebook, the guide aims to help Sub-Saharan African news publishers develop and implement mobile services. The report is based on a series of on-site interviews with newspapers in Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa, including The Observer and the Daily Monitor in Uganda, The Standard and the Daily Nation in Kenya, and Grocott's Mail, Mail & Guardian, Avusa Group, and in South Africa.

Though the primary audience of the guidebook is media managers, there are lessons and tips for anyone interested in the current state of and potential future for mobile print media in Sub-Saharan Africa.

We would have wished that there was a greater focus on online media as the guide is almost entirely focused on print. Given the fast growth of online media outlets in a number of African media markets, this is an unfortunate limitation. 

At the same time, the guide provides a detailed landscape of mobile telephony in Africa, including usage and infrastructure and access points (including SMS, mobile Internet and data, Sim Tool Kit, USSD, voice and interactive voice response). See explanations and examples of these access points in the Mobile Media Toolkit Glossary, here.

The guidebook also addresses conditions for mobile business in Africa, an important consideration for print news outlets and organizations. Media companies around the world are in a period of flux and changing business models, and this WAN-IFRA publication helps address important questions such as what are existing business models and how can a media company finance mobile services? The pros and cons of premium SMS, mobile money, and mobile advertising are discussed in the guidebook.

The guide suggests several important considerations to consider in implementing mobile services. A successful mobile media strategy should address several questions, including:

  • Who is the audience?
  • What are the audience needs?
  • What do you want to achieve with mobile?
  • What services could you offer?
  • How do you offer it, or how do you "mobilize" properly?
  • How will you finance these services?
  • Is your media house prepared?
  • How can mobile fit into the overall digital media strategy?

This guidebook is a great resource - and one that complements our recently launched Mobile Media Toolkit. Taking the larger lessons and tips from the guidebook, the Toolkit is a logical "next step" and includes more mobile media case studies from around the world, tactical tips, and how-to guides. The guidebook emphasizes the importance of and potential for mobile tech in print media in Africa; the Toolkit helps show you how to Make Media Mobile

Access the WAN-IFRA guidebook here and the Mobile Media Toolkit here

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