Media’s blueprint to lead change

2013-09-29 10:00

On Friday, the print and digital media industry’s task team on transformation set out a methodical and critical account of how well, or not, our industry has done in reflecting the society it reports upon.

The work of a task team, led by Nkwenkwe Nkomo and managed by City Press’ former editor, Mathatha Tsedu, provides the industry with a blueprint to lead change.

Over exhaustive and exhausting months, the task team heard from all parts of society, and all shapes and size of media.

We sincerely hope that the report is taken seriously and that it is not left to gather dust. Why? The media industry needs to lead change and must be ahead of the curve. Why? As an industry styled as a fourth estate and one which enjoys constitutional protection, there is, we would argue, a higher responsibility to be an exemplar of transformation.

It is fashionable these days to criticise transformation, and its detractors are loud and powerful. But transformation is good and it requires rescuing from the muddy waters of risk it is buried in so that it can be returned to its constitutional roots.

The imperative for all industries and indeed for all of society to reflect on the make-up of the nation is a good thing.

It isn’t a risky thing we have allowed the private industry and conservative lobbies to tag it as. As such, the task team on media transformation seeks to return the task to good.

It sets out measurable targets on ownership, management and control, enterprise development and doing good for a powerful industry.

Rather than press for an industry charter, Nkomo and his team simply want our industry to live true to the Constitution and to the laws that we have made to ensure that we extend opportunities to all.

If the industry takes this report to heart, then it must do some footwork. Across the value chain, there are lags.

Black people and women need equal seats at the table and it sets out important ways to achieve these.

We like that the report is future-focused. It recognises that the future is digital and that the challenge is to free broadband, secure good leadership and put in place a digital army of young talent to staff the media’s digital future.

Some companies are doing well; others are not. The report is neither punitive nor unrealistic, but it is firm. It tells our powerful industry: get your house in order and help to bring small owners into the picture. In these ways, it sets out a big picture. We are watching with interest.

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