Ten media organizations from all over Africa are working with DW Akademie to assess their media viability. V-Sprint, a new assessment concept, allows outlets to quickly evaluate and adapt to changing media landscapes.
One of the first V-Sprints, which is part of the EU project "Covid-19 Response in Africa: Together for Reliable Information", was held in Kenya with the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE).
The Viability-Sprint (V-Sprint) is a fast-paced, interactive assessment process for media outlets developed by DW Akademie. It allows outlets to explore and validate their viability but also to design or re-adjust strategies in response to shifting political and socio-economic environments.
Based on DW Akademie’s News Media Viability concept, V-Sprint assesses issues such as quality of content, audience engagement and financial sustainability. The assessment also helps to clarify how these areas are interconnected.
"The V-Sprint was similar to an actual sprint, just in a media training and facilitation form. It is a fast but very effective approach to establishing some grounds for organizations to change or develop," said Levi Katire, one of DW's media viability facilitators.
Levi Katire is an entrepreneur and experienced trainer from Namibia and one of DW's media viability facilitators
Overall, the main objective is for participating media outlets to become more well-versed in relevant strategies for producing quality content that is relevant to their audiences and ultimately to be able to survive financially. The V-Sprint is facilitated by two certified DW Akademie trainers who are experienced in working with journalism start-ups, fundraising with international donors, media development and media viability.
Starting point: Kenya
Ten media organizations from Zimbabwe, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Ghana, South Sudan, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal applied for the program. In January 2021, one of the first V-Sprints, which is part of the EU project, was held in Kenya with the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) It was organized by DW Akademie and supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
"The training came at the right moment, given that the media in general is still feeling the effect of COVID-19," said Kennedy Kachwanya, chairman of BAKE. He also described the V-Sprint as a big eye-opener for him and his team.
"It helped us as a team to think much deeper on some of the challenges we are facing, see all aspects of media viability and reflect on how it's bigger than what people normally think," he added.
Kenya is one of three focus countries for DW Akademie. Further V-Sprints are already planned for Ghana with Multimedia Group (Joy) and Burkina Faso with Radio Vénégré.
Research and experience
DW Akademie’s Policies and Learning (POLL) team created the concept for V-Sprint. It is based on their long-term research into viable business models for independent media and experience in setting-up/assisting media outlets in developing business strategies.
During five and a half days, two certified DW Akademie facilitators work closely with a small team of representatives from a media organization. Together they assess issues such as content quality, audience engagement and financial sustainability while clarifying the interconnections between these areas in an engaging and interactive way. Facilitators guide the core team through the process to help them delve into their current strategy and validate it from a viability perspective. Each session is based on the particular challenges of the participating outlet.
A COVID-19 response
The V-Sprint is part of the "Covid-19 Response in Africa: Together for Reliable Information", a cooperation between ARTICLE 19, Fondation Hirondelle, Free Press Unlimited,International Media Support,Reporters Without Borders, UNESCO and DW Akademie. The 18-month long project, which started on August 1, 2020, is funded by the European Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO).
The main goal is to simplify the delivery of reliable and critical information about the coronavirus pandemic. Too often, such information does not reach the people who are most at risk. To change that, the project supports a variety of media stakeholders in Sub-Saharan Africa who are facing financial difficulties due to the pandemic. This project will provide media stakeholders with the time necessary to adapt and survive the corona crisis while enabling them to provide relevant and life-saving information to their audiences.