Over the past year, the Namibian newspaper industry has taken a new decline.
First it was State-owned, New Era Publication Corporation (NEPC), shutting down the country’s only existing weekend newspaper, barely a year after rolling out.
Now another weekly, The Villager has shuttered its print operations, joining a long list of weekly newspapers that have been struck off the street by the country’s dwindling market share, The Namib Independent, The Economist, Leadership Magazine, among others, while One Africa Television took a massive downsizing during the same period.
“From today, The Villager (incorporating Prime Focus) goes digital and will be published as a full daily newspaper by the end of the day. Also, The Villager will also incorporate Prime Focus Magazine as a special section. The decision to go digital is in line with the changing trends in the media industry where advertising and sales have fallen,” said The Villager website on its Facebook page.
Owned by John Walenga, The Villager rose to prominence in 2011, officially launched by President Hifikepunye Pohamba, setting a new culture of weekly readers in the country.
The Villager does not mention if it will lay-off editorial staff but states, “the idea is to invest more in strengthening editorial so that we can bring more meaningful stories rather than pay heavily to print while quality suffers.”
It has been a tough year for Namibian private media which is rarely supported by government, that even leading weekly The Windhoek Observer down-sized the paper size, with new entrant, another weekly, The Patriot hardly visible.
Walenga adds that the significant decline in advertising because of Facebook and various other digital platforms has forced some local newspapers in Namibia to undersell their advertising space just to make a dollar.
“The decision to go digital will benefit the reader most because we are now a daily paper and will bring the news meant for tomorrow today. For example, most people are on the internet countrywide even in areas where papers are not delivered. Those people can only rely on what they get via the web. There are also instances, and these are many when papers are delivered to some areas two days later. In a digital age, this is unacceptable.”
Oshili24, has over the years been Namibia’s only online news platform. And we welcome The Villager to a new age of outwitting mainstream media, hoping you will help us convince many advertisers to spend less, attracting thousands over a long period of time, than for a day.
Said Oshili24, Executive Editor Confidence Musariri, “No longer is mainstream newspaper advertising necessarily the best manifestation of creativity. Clients are looking towards the lens of innovation and effectiveness in terms of brand-experience creation, and the more we are on online platforms, the merrier.”