News from Africa

Mail and Guardian Launches New Africa Digital News Platform

Témoignages.re / 21 May 2014

Mail and Guardian Africa aims to be the leading and most important commercially successful contemporary voice on African issues. News analysis, insight, commentary and investigative journalism will be the hallmark of this Pan African platform.

The wait is over in Africa for a homegrown platform that tells its many stories from a mature perspective, rather than from the tired metaphor of an emerging giant. It’s not only Africans who want better insight into their continent – the world also wants to understand Africa better.

“Mail & Guardian Africa has taken the bold step to report Africa by telling why things do or do not happen, using an evidence-based, non-dogmatic and analytical approach and exploring the new opportunities that technology, social media and crowd-sourcing tools offer to do that in new ways,” says Mail and Guardian Africa Editor Charles Onyango-Obbo, a leading pan-African journalist with an unparalleled grasp of the Africa narrative.

Mail and Guardian Africa aims to be the leading and most important commercially successful contemporary voice on African issues. News analysis, insight, commentary and investigative journalism will be the hallmark of this Pan African platform.

As part of the package, the digital news and information portal of Mail and Guardian Africa, was activated on Thursday 1 May 2014. This will be followed by the launch of the Mail and Guardian Africa head office in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday 20 May 2014. From this location, Charles will lead a carefully selected contingent of creative and African journalists and editors operating across the continent.

“The aim is to focus on delivering quality African news and information via mobile to, primarily, 30-40 year-old audiences with a college education in both Africa and outside the continent. Mail and Guardian Africa will offer a non-paternalistic, intelligent, and enlightened view of developments on the continent without feeling duty-bound to talk up the “Africa Rising” narrative, or to be stuck in cynicism and a refusal to see progress either. The objective is to make M&G Africa the most trusted and diverse source of news on Africa,” says Charles.

Chris Roper, editor-in-chief of M&G Media, describes M&G Africa as “a very necessary addition to the journalism landscape of the continent, and one that knits together the many voices of Africa into a coherent, thoughtful tapestry, rather than the more usual competing narratives imposed on the continent by interest groups.”

The M&G Media has appointed Anastacia Martin as Managing Director Mail and Guardian Africa to drive the strategic mandate and ensure commercial viability of the contemporary digital news portal.

“We are excited that finally, our dream and vision to provide Africa with a platform to access impeccable journalism delivered in a creative, engaging and trend-setting way has come to fruition,” says Martin.

“Bearing in mind the ever changing dynamics of the media landscape and matters of sustainable growth, we will complement our editorial vision with inter-active thought leadership events and conferences, and partnerships in advertising, sponsorships and multi-media offerings that will help us reach our goal for a world class pan-African news and information platform.”

Speaking during a pre-launch business conference in March 2014, M&G Media Ltd Executive Deputy Chairman Trevor Ncube described Mail and Guardian Africa as the culmination of a long held vision that as “Africans we have to tell our own story.”

Added Ncube; “I think nothing is more emblematic of how little influence Africa has wielded in world affairs than the fact that even Africans themselves rely on non-African media to know what is going on in their own backyard.”

Charles Onyango-Obbo, a Ugandan, was formerly the co-founder of Uganda’s leading independent title, The Monitor, which became part of the Nation Group in 2000. He was later appointed Executive Editor for Africa & the Digital Media Division of the Nation Media Group operating out of Nairobi and was also a columnist for Daily Nation, The East African, The Monitor (Uganda), and The Citizen (Tanzania), writing mostly on African political and democratic transition issues, the political economy of new technologies, and social trends. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Institute of Economic Affairs, Nairobi, Kenya.

He has a BA degree from Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, and a master’s degree in journalism from the American University in Cairo, Egypt. He is also a Harvard Nieman Fellow.

Charles has published three books: Uganda’s Poorly Kept Secrets (Fountain Publishers, Third Edition 2003); Inside the Soul of a Nation and Its People (Fountain Publishers, 2007) and; It Never Happened: The Story of the Last Days of Idi Amin (Oxford University Press, 2008).

“There are negative stories about Africa, there are positive ones. Mail & Guardian Africa will tell the thoughtful and important stories, give new meaning to old facts, and look to how the future of the continent is shaping up.

“From our Nairobi headquarters, and with all the social tools we can muster, Mail & Guardian Africa will be home to every African voice imaginable, tackle the continent’s failures without fear, and shine the light on its great possibilities intelligently,” says Charles.

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