How covering Covid-19 showed us our true potential

In the face of great upheaval and adversity, the Newzroom Afrika team rose to the occasion.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, reporting on it was both a huge responsibility and an opportunity to show what we could do. People struggling to understand what was going on turned to the news media for reliable information, and Newzroom Afrika’s audience share grew almost overnight.

The trick since then has been to make sure we retain those viewers by continuing to be a source of credible news and relevant analysis.

Fortunately, we were better prepared than most. As it is our duty to know what is happening before anyone else, we had been monitoring developments in the rest of the world, ordering PPE and having business continuity plans in place long before the lockdown was announced in Africa. from South.

Quick adaptations

We learned a lot in those early days about adapting quickly to new situations, as lockdown regulations changed from week to week, or staff got sick or had to self-isolate, but our duty to be on the air at all times is remained constant. We have created a special slot in our programming for Covid-19 news and analysis, giving viewers a daily insight into the latest developments.

We have found ways to minimize the need for staff to be on site. Instead of arriving at the studio for journal meetings before heading out on stories, our reporters had virtual journal conferences, went straight from home to the story, and filed remotely.

We found we could do more with less by taking full advantage of the technology we have. These are efficiencies that we will explore further to ensure the sustainability of the business.

We found that being a lean operation made us more nimble and adaptable. Being a tight-knit team meant people supported each other; for example, we had desk producers raising their hands to cover reporters in the field if they were sick or in isolation.


Communication was essential to this team spirit and to maintaining morale. We made sure our employees had everything they needed to be safe, that they knew we had a plan, and that they could see and speak to leaders at all times. The simple assurance that we were all in the same boat made a big difference.

We also increased our employee wellness support and extended it to family members to ensure people got the guidance and support they needed. It made all the difference and will be an ongoing priority.

continuous focus.

From the start, we made a clear commitment that no one would lose their job or take a pay cut. The fact that we delivered on this promise, in an industry where jobs were at risk, is a testament to the robustness of our business model, despite the significant unforeseen costs associated with managing Covid-19.

Newzroom Afrika has grown by leaps and bounds in our almost three years of existence, as have our people. It has been inspiring to discover that we are capable of so much more than we thought, all thanks to the passion of the 405 team.

Thabile Ngwato is the co-founder of Ngwato Nkosi Holdings, which wholly owns Africa’s fastest growing and independent 24-hour news channel, Newzroom Afrika. With a background as a journalist, producer and presenter, she currently leads the channel’s operations as CEO, a proud first for a South African woman.

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