By Paul Ndiho
There are numerous media outlets in Tanzania, including dozens of daily and weekly newspapers. The government controls two daily newspapers, and the two main political parties own one each. But Global publishers, the publishers of the leading gossip, entertainment, sports and popular Culture newspapers, are literary giving the other publication on the street a run for their money. VOA’s Paul Ndiho has our story
Tanzania is said to have a vocal and relatively free press by the standards of the region, and even criticism of leaders is often tolerated. In a report published earlier this year by Freedom house, Tanzania was ranked as partly free. As a result, dozens of major daily publications, television stations, radio stations and numerous internet platforms are thriving. Eric James Shigongo owns Global Publishers.
“When we started this business back in 1998, we were just a group of young people who thought we should do what is missing in society. There were newspapers, but they were all mainstream newspapers, the political newspapers mainly, and we said “What more can we do?” We looked at the newspaper industry and we realized there was a gap, and the gap was actually tabloid newspapers.”
Eric James Shigongo is one of Tanzania’s most prominent entrepreneurs. Born in Mwanza, on the shores of Lake Victoria, he has a wide variety of ventures pursuits, including media, hotels, farming, real estate and property development. Shigongo’s story – from poverty to success, AS A celebrated African author, motivational speaker despite repeated hardships – is remarkable.
“We always tell people, that we are not in this business mainly to make money, we are in this business to change the community and help the community become a better community. So, in short, it is hard work.”
Mr. Shigongo has always turned adversity into triumph. Over the years, he has expanded his business holdings across much of the country, and he employees a hundreds of people. Eric’s publications dominate the streets. In fact, they out sell mainstream newspapers almost three to one. Benjamin Mwanambu is the head of marketing.
Salleh Ali, is one of the senior editors of “Championi” one of the best-selling sports newspapers.
“I want the Championi not only to compete, but to be the king of all the sports papers. Yes I mean the king! If people see Championi, they say this is the paper.”
Like all great entrepreneurs, Shigongo’s success was built on his canny ability to spot opportunities – and take risks. He also credits the help of many people along like one of his trusted friends and longtime colleague Abdullah Mrisho. Abdullah says what gives them and edge is the ability to showcase what’s trending and talk about issues that of concern to Tanzanians.
“We didn’t have that kind of paper which is specifically dealing with people, talking about people, writing about people, especially the young and celebrities.”
Mr. Mrisho also attributes the success of his tabloids to the team of talented young journalist who are deployed on the streets to capture what’s happening.
“Our number one qualification when it comes to selecting our journalists or group of people who want to be journalists at Global Publishers, our number one qualification is passion. That’s the number one. Do you like what you are doing? Do you think you can be a global journalist? Well, global journalist is somehow different from other journalist.”
Analyst say newspapers in Africa are still “king” and will continue to play significant role as the major source of news, gossip, entertainment, sports and popular culture despite declining advertising revenue. Critics say that although the constitution of Tanzania provides for freedom of speech, numerous other laws encourage self-censorship and limit the ability of the media to function effectively. The government reportedly continues to withhold advertising from critical newspapers and websites, especially those that favor the opposition.
By Paul Ndiho