Employees at Daily Monitor and other Nation Media Group outlets in Uganda are uncertain about their future after the company announced that it would be re-organising itself to become more efficient, a polite way of saying they will be laying off some staff members.
In a statement dated March 25, 2021 issued by Tony Glencross, the managing director of NMG in Uganda, the company said its performance had been greatly affected by Covid-19 and even the several cost-cutting measures instituted had not been quite successful.
Glencross said under the circumstances, the company will have to make radical changes in its operations and change its business model from “traditional advertising to content-driven revenue.”
This, he said, will “regrettably… result in a reduction of our workforce effective Wednesday, March 31, 2021.”
“This is an extremely difficult decision especially in view of the prevailing circumstances and the impact it will have on those affected and their families,” Glencross’ statement read in part.
NMG said that it will offer counselling services to those affected by the changes in addition to medical insurance until the end of June this year.
While Glencross did not reveal how many employees will be affected by the change, multiple sources at Daily Monitor told The Nile Post that more than 40 employees could lose their jobs across various departments and NMG units.
The sources said that the letter and news had created fear and nail-biting anxiety within the Daily Monitor newsroom, which employs more than 70 people.
As the organisation prepares to adopt the “digital first” approach, it is feared that the newspaper division could take the biggest hit. Other sources said that senior staff who are paid highly could be the first victims.
In Uganda, NMG runs Daily Monitor, East African NTV Uganda, Spark TV KFM, Ennyanda and Ddembe FM.
“People are worried since many have families to fend for and children to look after. We are just praying,” said a journalist who has worked at Daily Monitor for more than 15 years.
Nation Media Group, like several media organisations in the region, have battled several challenges in the last couple of years including a fall in circulation for its newspaper products, declining advertising revenue a harsh economic environment and the proliferation of social media platforms, where people have overnight, become writers, editors and publishers.
The challenges were aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic that peaked last March, which forced many of them to scale down on their operations.
In August last year, the Nation Media Group issued a profit warning citing tough economic environment due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The group said then that it expected earnings to drop by more than 25 percent.
Many media organisations in Uganda are now teetering on the edge.
This week, reports emerged of the pending closure of a television station.
Uganda Radio Network URN), a non-profit news gathering organisation, told staff this week that their jobs, starting April, could be in jeopardy due to the suspension of DGF, its biggest donor.
The staff have been informed that, “Consequently, starting April 2021, I regret to inform you that there will be no funding for salary and operating funds.”
“Management is trying hard to work out other options to keep the organization open but there is currently no direct fund to sustain operations and bridge the gap left by DGF. We therefore ask you for your understanding in what obviously is going to be a trying moment for all of us,” read part of the message.