Why Daily News thrives against all odds

HARARE - From time to time, I get asked by curious outsiders how the Daily News has beaten the odds so spectacularly, and continues to thrive, seemingly against insurmountable challenges that have tripped many in similar situations.

There is no simple answer to this question, and frankly, in addition to working extremely hard and doing many things well, we have had a huge dose of luck and God’s favour!

Indeed, the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ)  company we have today — that employs hundreds of people and publishes the market-leading Daily News, the Daily News on Sunday, the Weekend Post and a plethora of successful specialist magazines — is a far cry from the operation that I joined way back in 2008.

Then, the smell of death was in the air, with a mere two dozen or so core staff, mostly at our dilapidated printing press premises in Southerton, valiantly trying to keep the rotting equipment going.

It was desperate.

Even when we were given the green light by the government to re-launch the Daily News two years later, both friends and foes did not believe that we could ever come back, never mind as successfully as we have done.

In retrospect, I think one of the key game-changing decisions that shareholders and directors took back then, and that firmly set ANZ on the path to success, was the decision not to seek any donor funding for the company at all, and to plot our way ahead purely on a commercial basis.

As difficult and as controversial as this decision proved to be for some time within the company, particularly as ANZ had to borrow some of the necessary seed capital from banks at initial interest rates of up to 54 percent a year, it rallied the troops so much as we all knew that we were on our own and that we would have to eat what we hunted, as a former Finance minister once said.

Four years after that tough re-launch, ANZ is once again at the top of the media charts, leading the way in many of the key success factors for the industry, including quality of editorial, cost management and operational efficiency that others who were never shut down by the government are battling with and now trying to emulate.

From day one we knew that it was not business as usual, and that we could not benchmark ourselves against players in the local market as they had advantages that we did not and would never enjoy, which we accepted.

But we were also convinced of our success, particularly given the complacency then of existing players in the market, who seemingly wrongly assumed that just because we did not enjoy the support of the government and donors — we would not make it.

We had a very clear objective of funding most of our operations from our circulation (or street newspaper) sales rather than the archaic industry belief that a newspaper had to have a so-called 60/40 advertising to editorial split to be commercially viable.

Almost laughably, some competitors even went to the extent of carrying free advertisements or giving major discounts on advertising just to give the impression to their peers that they were approximating the 60/40 ratio silver bullet!

We completely refused to do this and successfully stuck to our beliefs, initially relying solely on our circulation income and gradually growing our advertising, to the extent that today we are one of the few businesses in Zimbabwe that manages to pay staff on time and to remit our statutory obligations to the likes of Zimra and Nssa to the letter.

This is what causes the curious outsiders to ask how the Daily News has beaten the odds so spectacularly, as some competitors who seemingly get lots of government or donor support, and carry lots of “advertising” on the face of it, and which many people assumed were doing well, have reported publicly that they are experiencing major challenges.

Like the famous philosopher Aristotle, we have also embraced the thinking that we are what we repeatedly do and that both individual and organisational excellence is not an act, but a habit.

And as the maxim goes: “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny” — we have drummed it into our psyches, from directors to the most junior colleagues, that our habits and way of doing things are very powerful factors both in our private lives and ANZ.

This is because the habits that we cultivate express our character and produce our effectiveness or ineffectiveness as people and as organisations.

We have also attracted some of the brightest and hardest working young talent in the market to ANZ, who are now delivering on our business strategy and facilitating effective change aligned to Zimbabwe’s difficult and ever changing operating environment.

But we also know that we shouldn’t get complacent, and that beating inefficient and punch-drunk competitors is in itself not a measure of real success.

Our long-term success will ultimately be measured by how well we continue to satisfy the needs of our growing readers and advertisers, and how we perform compared to really thriving international players.

Why Daily News thrives against all oddsWhy Daily News thrives against all odds

In this endeavour, our duty is to our country and not to individuals, businesses and political parties as a few people mistakenly want us to do — unless, of course, if those individuals, businesses and political parties are advancing the interests of the country and all Zimbabweans.

Comments (15)

Hapana pandaona pakanzi MDC,saka you bent on rerporting ZANU PF chete,ko isu tozobudawo rini, am sure bthe COO idamba chairo

Richard - 12 April 2015

Well done Daily News and keep telling it like it is. Just a small request: Please load more of your articles online and early. You are the best. Happy Anniversary!!!!!!!

Kt - 12 April 2015

though I do not agree with what appears to be your bias towards the other faction, I admit that you have brought a balance to the political landscape of our country. well done daily news. I wish you the best for the future.

taurai - 12 April 2015

a good read. but try and put your online version early. we depend on it as we are far from the madding crowd.

james - 13 April 2015

kikikiki, hogwash

reason - 13 April 2015

@reason is pained by your success Daily News. Kkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!

Musorodamba - 13 April 2015

@reason anoriva kkkkk achiverenga daily news mazuva ese. he is another happy customers of this tabloid.

tula - 13 April 2015

Sorry SHARON SAMUSHONGA. The difference between your paper and the Herald is in the name only. You're a mouth piece of the opposition while the Herald is for Zanu PF. You're not asking any hard hitting questions to Mujuru, Mutasa, Jabulani etc. Its time to ask them about their role in zanu pf. -Why suddenly zanu pf is a monster but it was good during their days? -Why should zanu pf start rigging elections now but it wasnt rigging during their times? -Did zanu pf win the last elections etc...in fact can Mutasa and Temba confirm that they won their seats fairly? Lots of questions and no answers. The role of the press is to be fair and balanced. Politicians are liars and we expect the press to protect us from them. Right now the press is going along with their narratives without challenging them and Dailynews is helping them get away with murder.

Qiniso - 13 April 2015

Congrats Daily News. We can all see why readers love you and continue to support you; your haters try too hard to criticise and discredit you. It won't work. Nomakanjani!

Khumalo - 14 April 2015

Qiniso made a good point. While we love daily news BUT there is need for improvement. 1. Do not rely on the senior zanu-oids info only rather perform your own due diligence to make a complete story 2. Daily news reporters/journalists need to ask zanus the hard hitting questions 3. Involve SADC, AU by constantly posing questions on zim and robert. 4. the investigative journalism section needs to be improved to match or better the amagubane of mail and guardian in south africa because we need serious exposes please. In essence I feel like daily news is too soft on the gvnmnt.

obama4ever - 14 April 2015

Please mention your sponsorship as well. Some on the independent papers are commercial and suffer from the economic hardships. But you are an NGO which survive on donor funds. Not trying to discredit but merely stating facts. You are like Herald but anti ZANU chete.

Rongina - 14 April 2015

Comrade @Rongina is obviously illiterate. The story above clearly says the Daily News does not enjoy any government or donor support. That's why @Khumalo you are correct to say the newspaper's "haters" try too hard to delegitimise it. But on the other hand zvinonzwi ane bhora ndiye anomakwa.

TK Mbewe - 14 April 2015

I only read this paper to find out the lies for the day. For example, how can you make all the daily mutterings by Mutasa headline news? Its pathetic!

godfrey gudo - 14 April 2015

What is even more pathetic is hearing the silly @Gudo (in English baboon) trying to lie that he does not enjoy reading the Daily News. Kikikikikikikiki!

Moses - 14 April 2015

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