Sustaining newspapers in a digital dispensation

By Jude Kaddu

The outbreak of Covid-19 had a life changing  impact on the daily life of the people. The consumption of news and current affairs is one such change. An online approach to the way news is consumed was accelerated and made necessary.  The country’s traditional print media outlets such as  The Daily Monitor , The  New Vision, Uganda Christian University,UCU  newspaper The Standard Newspaper  have all adapted online newspaper. However , the question of sustainability brings a dilemma  to the digital news dissemination.

Though the online experience is an awesome transition it comes with plenty of challenges such as:  expensive bandwidth and inaccessibility to digitally enabled gadgets by most Ugandans.

Ronald Muyimba the digital technical manager of the Daily Monitor  says, “Unlike many countries outside Africa  where the bandwidth is very cheap,  here in Uganda the cost of bandwidth is very high.” added Mayumba.  This makes it harder for people to access the internet thus making it difficult to gain access to the online version of the newspaper coupled with inability to pay for the E-paper.

Muyimba  who doubles as the graphics sub editor at the Daily Monitor explains  that the newspaper uses an integrated software partner to track the subscription onto the E-paper. For a person to subscribe to the E-paper they fill in their information such as  their Nationality and the payment plan they have taken up which is both short and long term. The Daily Monitor has four payment plans namely  Weekly, Monthly, Half and Annual plans.

He says the Daily payment plan is shs.1000/= and the annual payment is shs.360, 000/=  “The beauty with taking on the longer payment plans is that it comes with an awesome discount” , he says . 

On the other  hand Jimmy Siyasa who works with the Standard newspaper , UCU newspaper explains  that the payment plans are not yet rolled out because the newspaper has content that is free for access , a strategy that is meant to increase viewership and readership onto the site.  “Once we are sure that we have quite a significant number of readers then we can consider putting our content behind a paywall.” added Jimmy

He says  that the basic tracking of subscribers onto the Standard paper is done with the help of Google Analytics regarding the viewership of stories on the site and which segments are frequently visited. 

The Standard Newspaper runs on the basis of good content and good will from the readers to sustain itself.