Black smoke has been billowing from my former workplace – the Daily Monitor. Those who have been keen enough to follow the developments will realise that the Monitor has been sinking and stinking, notably since government closed it down for 10 days.

Matters were not helped when, instead of taking advantage of public sympathy against its closure, the paper signed an ‘agreement’ with government. The public viewed that as a swap for their loyalty and trust in a paper that waves the flag of ‘independence’ and ‘truth every day’.

Although management came out to deny that the agreement was not a sell-out but a move at sticking to ethical and professional journalism, reports of stories about Muhoozi, Sejusa and Museveni, being plucked out of the press or from the stands, helped worsen the PR. At that point, management remained silent. Those who needed serious stories camped at the Observer and even New Vision.

Inside the newsroom, apathy and tension set in. Reporters and editors were no longer sure what stories to write/publish and which ones not to, because they weren’t sure if it’ll be ‘recalled’ or killed. Again, management took its time to calm the nerves of its employees and in the meantime, certain stories were not touched, notably stories on Sejusa. The paper only resumed consistently writing about Sejusa before, during and after his controversial return from the self-imposed ‘exile’ in the UK.

Of course the closure affected the company financially, Shs120 million was lost daily for the ten days it remained closed. That, in addition to the just receding economic crisis, saw employees sit on the edge of their chairs as reports of downsizing (or restructuring) spread.

Those who saw the ship tilting early enough, jumped off since they knew they could neither swim in the deep waters or save the vessel.

So what should really be done to save this ship from a wreck?

First, what the Monitor needs is a sober and effective management. Monitor needs a manager who understands the history and internal politics of the paper, the philosophies of why the paper was established and how it can adjust in relation to economic, political and rapid technological changes.

Otherwise, for now the paper is starving because of insufficient number of ‘adults’ to run that place; the young ones are either clueless, sucked up in intrigue, cliquism and passion for power rather than journalism or are lost because of the absence of mentorship. The good ones are doing their part, albeit with eyes at the window for an opportunity to jump.

Secondly, the Monitor needs to take a step back and reflect on where it went wrong, and find out who/what ‘bewitched’ the once mighty newspaper. That reflection can help the paper understand why it’s innovations and rebrands never delivers much.

That reflection will help the paper accept that there is a fire, so do you use water or sand to put it out? The paper’s reactive attempt at ‘increasing sales’ and ‘improving journalism’ has been seen in the paper briefing all stories from regions and at another time assigning a page per region; The paper’s clamour for survival, has seen it reallocate pagination and introduce two ‘editions’ but all this somehow falls along the way. So a reflection on what really happened, will be useful.

Thirdly, if the Monitor can’t improve its management and reflect on its existence, then we should allow it to die. The paper has been limping for a long time and the public plus its workers have been clutching on that tiny thread of ‘independence’ and ‘truth every day’, hoping it’ll survive – somehow.

Keeping the paper in that limping state won’t help. Its radicalism and an internal institutional coup that needs to happen. That coup should take with it unproductive employees (unless their usefulness can be reworked), and also do away with those who have accepted and are wallowing in mediocrity.

I don’t know if the recent sackings and ‘restructuring’ is a move to sweep the dirt at the place, but all will agree that the way issues around the poll story was handled, as well as the subsequent consequences, leave a lot to be desired. For an organization that deals in communication, an explanation to the public would have sufficed, maybe it will, but like my people say, the poop of a dog has to be cleaned when it is still hot (and not as smelly). Where is the accountability and transparency demanded so much from government and public officials, if readers can’t receive the same?

There are passionate, competent journalists at Monitor and in Uganda, but is the paper investing in them or attracting those with excellence? Is it rewarding and let alone recognizing excellence? Does it concern the paper when its reputable journalists leave the company in disgruntlement; or do the exits just serve as an opportunity to employ job-hungry graduates who will then be paid peanuts as a buffer for the company’s twitching financial muscle?

The media landscape has changed and keeps changing for the better or for the worse, depending on how one embraces it. The newspaper is particularly not in a comfortable place, especially those who have embraced sleaze and commoditised journalism instead of turning to enterprise and Day-2 journalism and milking online platforms for breaking stories and reader engagement.

That is why the Monitor, despite seeking to be financially viable, must also address journalistic gaps it is facing. People won’t buy the paper because Monitor employees took a month off to wash cars in public garages or clean city streets; they buy content, they buy valuable content, and unless the paper realizes that, we can only wish it a peaceful death, and hope it resurrects, healthier and stronger.

36 thoughts on “Let’s allow The Monitor to die in peace…and resurrect

  1. I cant agree more – its been dying for almost a year now . A very professional and timely article!! I was used to reading breaking stories from the daily monitor but they are now written by a government paper. why???? Did monitor allow to be subdued???? Anything they are doing to recover past glory??? So sad!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Was this ‘splitting the atoms”? No, it is spilling the items – that is, the truths. I am happy I read this because I was getting it all wrong before, I think. Now I know. A very professional piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Martin Luther King once noted, ” Our lives begin to end the day we become silent on things that matter”. Harriet Anena help us not end our lives DM faithful!


  4. For I understand Monitor just like CBS was closed, the closure differed only in methodology. Like anything that dies, there is always something coming up in that very place which shall never be the same!

    Monitor will continue but it’s hard to get the original Monitor. the situation requires them to consider authorities in their reporting and they were instead considering the truth everyday by the time they were popular.

    Majority will agree with me that they no longer operate on that basis, can we therefore also agree that the poll wasn’t in good faith??

    I feel Monitor needs to clear the air soon before people are taken up by unfolding events.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I appreciate the concerns shown and written here by a former employee showing her love for the paper that we all used to love and revere unconditionally. However, much as you are much concerned of the current wave of developments, for me, I have been watching in agony of the hemorrhaging of the basic tenets of professional journalism at Monitor. So many stories have been printed with glaring grammatical errors and much more that I would rather not say here. However, that said, The Monitor is a privately owned media business, and much as we exercise our right to criticise, we should as well have in mind that the owners are aware of what is going on and that it’s upon them to act on it or not. If the writer is feeling so strongly about these issues that have been going on, it’s very important that he gets in touch with the managing team or the board of directors as you may want to call them. This has been the problem with many other privately owned publications that editorial policies have been compromised in order to tow a line convenient, appeasing and beneficial to the owners commercial interests. Is it too late to rescue the ship? Me and you don’t know but it’s no longer in our hands. Thank you very much

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve have been wondering The Goings on at The Monitor, ever since I wrote to them an article and they completely distorted it. Fortunately, I was rescued by The observer. Thanks Anena.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a very good observation and analysis. I have been seeing the trends and they don’t tell you that the paper can compete or stand to portray its true colours.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Nice piece Anenah. I like the analytic observation. I hope my Bosses can do the needful. I Love; “People…. buy valuable content, and unless the paper realizes that…”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your prognosis Harriet in those three points is a powerful one and The Khan should hear you. Particularly on: “Monitor needs a manager who understands the history and internal politics of the paper, the philosophies of why the paper was established and how it can adjust in relation to economic, political and rapid technological changes.”


  10. This is a very objective explanation of the trend at DM. It opens the eyes of the directors and all journalists and/or employees there. I like it when you noted that, “The poop of a dog…………….”. It now or never. No name mentioned but all corners touched to embrace the spirit of media excellence in a press that envisions truth everyday. This is a good one!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Its really absurd that once might monitor that would put government on its knees,with truthful and fact breaking news,is now in bed with the same government. The truth be told,whatever agreement government signed with monitor.alot is still to come


  12. this is an objective analysis, and if i was the new MD, i wud definitely take notes esp ”People won’t buy the paper because Monitor employees took a month off to wash cars in public garages or clean city streets; they buy content, they buy valuable content”


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