Two of the front page stories (‘Benson wins Silver for Namibia’ and ‘Rape Changes Head to Cabinet’) were stories that took place on Sunday and Thursday the preceding week respectively.
Inside the newspaper it isn’t much better, with a story about the horror accident near Okahandja that took place on Sunday (it was released on the internet – www.lotteringnews.blogspot.com – completed with video footage - that same Sunday evening) and the National Planning Commission meeting on tenders held on Thursday the week before. On page six another Thursday story appears, on a public talk (in Windhoek) held on poverty and neo-liberalism. Surely we can’t be buying a paper on a Tuesday and reading stories from last Thursday? For those reading the Oshiwambo section things would be even more out of date, and they would be reading stories a full six days after the actual event happened!
Obviously newspapers have deadlines and must be ‘put to bed’ by a certain time, and certainly it would therefore have been difficult to cover the Sunday evening Olympic story in time for the Monday edition. Nevertheless, a sign of how out of touch the print media has become is the fact that, in the same edition (Tuesday) that this ‘news’ was printed on the front page there were already two SMS messages inside congratulating Benson on her achievement!At a recent conference I sensed hostility from the print media who didn’t believe that social media could be ‘profitable’ and were insistent on clinging on to their ‘tried and tested’ methods of delivering news.
The trouble is the world has moved on and we can no longer patiently wait for journalists to leisurely take their time in filing stories or editors subbing them.
One journalist I know (now independent) pioneered electronic journalism. She would file her stories directly from Parliament using the then, new technologies of wireless internet without even driving back to the office. Surely that’s possible today – even from locations such as the Okahandja road accident or the Keetmanshoop Town Council?
Or have the print media become apathetic and are resting on their laurels. If so, this must be a wake-up call. We can longer wait for nearly a week to get news. As I teach my students – the most important letters in the word ‘news’ are the first three.
*We integrate print and electronic media. In fact, we were among the first to break the Benson triumphs on social media. Due to the challenges of print that you outlined, the content of our stories will show that we try to go beyond event reporting. That sometimes accounts for us taking longer to publish a story. –Ed