Media management training needs assessment within the SADC region : a qualitative study

Milne, Claire and Du Toit, Peter and Rau, Asta and Mdlongwa, Francis (2006) Media management training needs assessment within the SADC region : a qualitative study. Project Report. Sol Plaatje Institute for Media Leadership, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.




By exploring the views of editorial and business leaders in the media industry, the Sol Plaatje Institute for Media Leadership (SPI) aims to reach a comprehensive understanding of management training issues that are regarded as priorities by leaders in the SADC region. The Institute also aims to create a space for media organisations to share their experiences of management capacity building and explore avenues for future collaboration. It is envisaged that this report will form part of an ongoing dialogue on the needs of media leaders in the region. Representatives from the SPI, the Southern Africa Institute for Media Entrepreneurship Development (SAIMED), the Southern Africa Media Development Fund (SAMDEF) and the Southern African Media Training Trust (NSJ) met to advise the SPI on the industry’s key information needs. The research was then designed to focus on the identified needs. The research was conducted in three phases. In the first phase approximately 75 interviews were conducted with people holding diverse positions in a broad range of print and broadcast media institutions in Botswana, Malawi, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia. The second research phase comprised a workshop held for training providers and media professionals from the SADC region. Findings from the initial phase of the research were presented to workshop delegates for comment and debate. This allowed for the testing and triangulation of initial research findings. In response to comments by delegates, who thought that the research ought to have included countries where the lingua franca of business is not predominantly English, the study was extended to a second set of countries: Angola, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Interviews with 64 informants from this second set of countries constitutes the final phase of the research, Translators were used in this third phase, but other than that, there was a high degree of standardisation across all eight countries with the same methodological approach - including the selection of participants - being used in the first and third phases. As the research is predominantly qualitative, findings are context-specific and not generalisable. For the first set of research countries - Botswana, Malawi, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia – participants prioritise their training needs as follows: (1) Leadership = 59.25%, (2) Human Resource Management = 46.3%, (3) Editorial Leadership = 40%, (4) Financial Management = 35%, (5) Management of Materials = 32.3% and (6) General Management = 27%. The five sub-categories of training needs ranked highest by research participants are General Resource Functions (83%), Management Styles (76%), People Skills (71%), Marketing Strategies (54%) and Product Development (53%). Set-two participants – from Angola, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo - rank their media leadership and management training needs as: (1) Editorial Leadership = 33.3%, (2) Leadership = 32.5%, (3) Financial Management = 32.2%, (4) Human Resource Management = 29.3%, (5) General Management = 27% and (6) Management of Materials = 21.2%. The five sub-categories of training needs ranked highest are General Human Resource Functions (69%), Management Styles (50%), Newsroom Management (47%), Budgeting and Financing Proposals (42%), and Basic Financial Management (41%). In terms of training strategies, participants from both sets of countries ranked their first four preferences in the same order: (1) Exchange Programmes, (2) In-House Training, (3) Formal Workshops and Seminars, and (4) Formal University and Technikon Qualifications. The research identifies four major challenges being faced by media organisations across the eight countries: (1) Lack of Journalism and Technical Specialisation Training, (2) Lack of Management Training, (3) Introduction of New Technology, and (4) The Competitive Media Environment. A brief overview of each follows. 1.Lack of Journalism and Technical Specialisation Training Few participants of the eight countries - Botswana, Malawi, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo - have schools teaching formal journalism programmes. Where schools exist they are relatively new and none offer training in leadership and management or in teaching technical know-how specific to the media industry. This means that people in management and leadership roles have not had the opportunity to undergo formal training either as journalists or as media technicians and have had to learn in the workplace. In most cases managers are responsible for training their subordinates, who also enter the industry without formal training. Although many research participants say there is a need for basic training in journalism and media-associated technical specialisations, it should be pointed out that workshop delegates and some research participants disagree. In their opinion, the SPI should concentrate on training leaders and managers, not “practitioners”. 2.Lack of Management Training Most media managers interviewed began their careers as journalists and worked their way up to management positions within their organisations. Their only recourse to knowing how media organisations should be run has been to follow the examples set by their predecessors. Because of this media managers find themselves mimicking management styles that are often outdated and they are concerned that this limits their possibilities for effective action. Accordingly, managers request a wide range of management training, including general human resource management, management styles, newsroom management, and staff support. 3.Introduction of New Technology With the continuous entry of new technology into the media industry managers feel that their knowledge of technology needs updating. They struggle to make decisions regarding technology because they lack the requisite information about available technology and the implications of new technology to their organisations. They also regard the move from analogue to digital broadcasting as a challenge. These difficulties are compounded by a lack of available resources to invest in new technology and to train staff in how to use it. Interviewees request training that will assist them to understand new technology and its impact on the media industry, how to incorporate it into their already existing systems, and how to use and maintain it. 4.The Competitive Media Environment The media industry is highly competitive with print and broadcasting competing for audiences and advertising. Following the withdrawal of government funding from many public media organisations, advertising sales have become an increasingly important way of generating revenue. In response media managers request training in various financial management skills such as formulating marketing strategies, preparing funding proposals, and basic financial management. Of these four challenges, Lack of Management Training and issues associated with a Competitive Media Environment are within the SPI’s core training business and expertise. The overall impression portrayed by the study is a sense that media managers throughout the SADC region are struggling to overcome the constraints of having received little training other than that acquired in the workplace. There is also a sense that media leaders and managers thirst for the knowledge and skills that will enable them to continually improve and steer their organisations to success. The political and economic contexts of the research countries are, to differing extents, all problematic. Mozambique has the most liberal media climate out of all the countries researched and the Democratic Republic of Congo has the most repressed. But all of the countries suffer some degree of media repression, whether blatant or subtle. It is widely accepted that media plays a vital role in the development and mediation of democracy. With empowerment central to the democratic ethos, it is vital that media leaders and managers are themselves empowered to steer their organisations fairly, freely and effectively. This study contributes to the process by asking media professionals about their perceptions on what kinds of training their leaders and managers need and prefer so that training interventions can be appropriately targeted and designed. And so this research process serves to initiate what the Sol Plaatje Institute for Media Leadership foresees will be an ongoing collaboration with media industry leaders and managers in the SADC region: a cooperate effort to shape solutions to the considerable range of training and management capacity building needs revealed in this study.

Item Type:Monograph (Project Report)
Additional Information:Funded by the Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa (NIZA)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Sol Plaatje Institute for Media Leadership, SPI, media industry, media leadership, media managers, SADC region, training strategies; Africa
Subjects:Y Unknown > Subjects to be assigned
Divisions:Research Institutes and Units > Sol Plaatje Institute for Media Leadership
ID Code:1234
Deposited By: Rhodes Library Archive Administrator
Deposited On:29 Oct 2008
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:20
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