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Learning from the market

FDC via Monitor and New Vision

How the competition between Monitor and New Vision has important lessons for Besigye’s next presidential election

I hope FDC takes the critical lesson from this story because many FDC officials downplay the need for organisational infrastructure to win, especially, presidential elections. They believe all they need is passionate voters. This is simply wrong. To win, passion is important; but is not sufficient.

I use The Monitor and New Vision fight between 1996 and 2006 over who should be the market leader in Uganda’s English daily newspaper market to illustrate.

I was an investigative reporter at Monitor. We were passionate. We defended democracy, exposed corruption and human rights abuses. We braved jail and intimidation from the state. Our strap-line: “The Paper That Builds The Nation” expressed our self-image. Our readers were equally passionate and committed to the newspaper because of its values.

But by 2001, New Vision was selling 34,000 copies daily while Monitor was selling 21,000. We invented many reasons to explain our poor performance – like accusing New Vision CEO, William Pike, of playing dirty tricks. We denigrated New Vision as a “government run newspaper.” Yet its sales kept steady or growing while Monitor’s sales kept shrinking. By end of 2003, Monitor was technically bankrupt. Our passionate readers could not save us from collapse. Why were Ugandan readers pushing us into bankruptcy while buying a newspaper that did not advance the values our country needed?

Pike, meanwhile, possibly understood that New Vision – as a state-owned newspaper – could never beat Monitor on independence and boldness. He also figured that not all readers are as passionate about such emotive issues of liberty, freedom, accountability and human rights. He also possibly did what in modern business strategy is called `the strategic canvas’. He strengthened New Vision’s coverage of functional things like sports news, exchange rates, community news, jobs, gossip (remember Have You Heard?) and features on health and environment.

Beyond content, Pike did what Robert Waterman and Tom Peters in their best selling book, `In Search of Excellence’ called the “itty-bitty teeny-tiny” things that grow customer loyalty. He improved New Vision’s copy layout and design and print quality. He ensured that by 6am the newspaper was in every major town in Uganda from Arua to Busia, Kisoro to Soroti. He paid (we would say “bribed”) vendors to display New Vision and placed its headlines on street light poles.

21 comments

  1. Mwenda, you and even perhaps me, may wish to see another leader for Uganda but fail to see substance among the ones attempting to remove our existing one and fear we might be betraying Uganda to opt for lowly creatures instead of credible ones. You feel much safer with the bird in hand since the many still afloat in the bushes offer no promise to the land.
    This is what your article tells me; you are advising FDC to at least do better in their activities; to rebrand. These activities can include choice of a running candidate. Besigye already shoved Greg Muntu aside (even after uttering vows he will never stand again in and unless…)!
    Again, you, Mwenda know very well that you could have advised Wafula Oguttu, Charles Onyago Obbo, Kalinaki – and other Besigye diehards to look at the Daily Monitor-vs-New Vision scenario and improve their own (but you obviously mean this for the future to people still licking at fresh wounds). You know they will – as you admit – only shout murder at you instead of reasoning.
    Mario Puzo’s Don Corleone talks most denigratingly about men you cannot reason with!
    I am reminded of your very last article where you showed us these FDCs relied more on emotion than reason to forward presidential ambitions.
    With people like those, I despair to think of the future of this country!

  2. How pedantic? Of what use is the economic analogy when the marketplace itself is rigged? The notion that a rigged and rotten political system can be likened to a market economics, which itself has come under heavy criticism, is far fetch, grasping, wanting, and deluded. It is becoming ever more apparent that there is only one way this will be resolved, the Ugandan way. Political contestation cannot possibly be reduced to a competition within the media. Uganda is on a death march. The regime’s guns wont be enough to save it.

    • The day a pig looks up and a dog grows horns, Ocheto’s wishes for the misfortunes of NRM and M7 will be realised. This fellow will die grinding his teeth and hoping for FDC goodies which are daily becoming as common as the proverbial promised lie.

  3. Mwenda, you and even perhaps me, may wish to see another leader for Uganda but fail to see substance among the ones attempting to remove the existing one and fear we might be betraying Uganda to opt for lowly gentlemen instead of credible ones.
    You feel much safer with the bird in hand since the many still afloat in the bushes offer no promise to the political landscape.
    This is what your article tells me; you are advising FDC to at least do better in their activities; to rebrand. These activities can include choice of a running candidate. Besigye already shoved Greg Muntu aside (even after uttering vows that he would never stand again if and unless…)!
    Again, you, Mwenda know very well that you could have advised Wafula Oguttu, Charles Onyago Obbo, Kalinaki – and other Besigye diehards to look at the Daily Monitor-vs-New Vision scenario and improve their own (but you obviously can’t advise people still licking at fresh wounds). You know they will – as you admit – only shout murder at you instead of reasoning.

    I am reminded of your very last article where you showed us these FDCs relied more on emotion than on reason to forward presidential ambitions.
    With people like those, I despair to think of the future of this country!

  4. 1.Prominent activists like Gandhi,Martin LK, Malcom X were all assassinated while in crowds.They mistakenly thought that every one in the crowd were for them .KB should know that popular guys dont expose themselves the way he does he should be mindful of his life.
    2.How can poor guys complain of being bribed during elections?actually its the voters who demand to be bribed before they vote(ii) That heavy deployment of security scared voters!Dont u see guys kicking armed men .
    3.Both KB & his supporters are redundant thats why r can afford to flash their teeth like apes the whole day.
    4.KB’s supporters can really fake political orgasm they even had guts to ask y NRM took long to celebrate their win as if they dont know that people climax differently.

  5. 5.The Panama report should not surprise any one world over,the wealthiest guys are either commission agents,Drug lords,arms dealers pole dancers etc that’s why most of their cash ends up in casinos.
    6.Its good to see M7 chilling in the National Park.
    7.The recent ICC verdict on Kenyan leaders proved to the world that its difficult to prove crimes of genocide & instigation of violence especially when a country has many ethnic groups matters just get out of control then we get to our senses later.

  6. 8.You moderator what r you moderating?

    • What do you smoke Winnie? The moderator has introduced a gag to chase certain undesirables from this forum. Mwenda too is a dictator and FDC mole who feeds on NRM dough. No wonder he is disappointed by KB’s performance.

  7. ejakait engoraton

    AKUCH , wonder what it is you are suffering from,or SMOKING posting the same article twice.DO you think posting RUBBISH twice will make it more INTELLIGENT. MY dear you are taking the recycling concept ( made popular in Uganda by people you know from where, as it turns out were ahead of their times) a bit too far.RUBBISH is RUBBISH no matter how many times you try to shove it down our throats.This seems to be some disease because previously it did afflict a one WINNIE who I can see has learnt to count.I just hope and pray for you that it is not CANCEROUS because unless you are well connected with the right shape of nose or come from the right postcode, chances are not very good.AS you can see , while it is of concern for every other paper in the land, for the INDEPENDENT the CRISIS at Mulago, et al is not of concern.PRAY AND HOPE IT NEVER HAPPENS TO YOU.

    • So you are back? We heard you and your group had gone underground mbu preparing for new posts in an FDC government of utopia where you would build a factory of banknotes in every district. How gullible!!! Call the others to return and post their Non(sense). Even though it is entirely weird and obsolete it entertains and relieves stress.

  8. ejakait engoraton

    DO you think that MWENDA not saying anything about the state of our HEATHCARE is accidental and then he finds it more important to have an article “Cameroon hospital chief sacked over death of pregnant woman”.This is to tell you that “look guys just in case you thought things are bad in UGANDA they are WORSE in the UK”.IS that meant to provide some comfort to the young lady who is dying at MULAGO .
    The Ganda say “oguli ewamuliranwa tegugoba NGO” meaning that if the leopard(if you dare to stick your finger in its anus) attacks you, the stick at your neighbours will not save you.SO by telling me what is happening in the UK will not help to solve the problems in Uganda.I want the healthcare system in UGANDA to be first class and available to all like in CUBA irrespective of what they have in the UK.WHY should the UK be the measure.

    • And why should Cuba be the measure?

    • It is an old adage that ” keep your mouth shut so they will think you are a fool instead of opening it and dispel the doubt”. Now ejakait (who does business with the dead) who told you Cameroon is in UK. Poseur like you who learnt English from kyeyo or street should also put in some effort and read. You put in a lot of effort to sound sophisticated but at the end of the day; give away yourself. If you live in Uganda you fool, follow the sun westwards and you will reach a country called DRC, after that Congo Brazzaville, then Gabon and then your Cameroon follows after which comes Nigeria. Its president is called Paul Biya and its capital is Yaounde. Read this all over and hopefully you will sound learned next time.

  9. ejakait engoraton

    RWASUBUTARE – only a MUTINDI and MUSHINGWE expends so much energy on an “O”, yes an O. ORAKOZE Mugabo for the geography lesson. AS I said before, only a DOG keeps going back to its vomit time and again.WHEN did you kill EZRA BUNYENYEZI. It is you , by typing a few keys , who has exposed your stupidity.WHY does one “put in effort to sound sophisticated” ; you are either sophisticated or you are not, effort or not.DO you know what the BANYARWANDA call “AMAFIERI”, that is when you try to put in effort to appear what you are not. And why do I try to impress an idiot like you who is so delighted to follow a FUSO because at one time he used to follow the behind of COWS.
    BANTU I doubt that you will be in a position to understand why I use CUBA just like M 9 uses RWANDA.

    • You have removed the doubt already. No one will now doubt. You are confirmed as a fool.

    • Uganda Penal Code Chapter VI:
      41. Promoting sectarianism.
      (1) A person who prints, publishes, makes or utters any statement or
      does any act which is likely to—
      (a) degrade, revile or expose to hatred or contempt;
      (b) create alienation or despondency of;

  10. (c) raise discontent or disaffection among; or
    (d) promote, in any other way, feelings of ill will or hostility among
    or against,
    any group or body of persons on account of religion, tribe or ethnic or
    regional origin commits an offence and is liable on conviction to
    imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
    SO ejakait YOU SEE WHAT YOU ARE INTO? The penal code is not drawn by or cater for only NRM remember.
    so watch your tongue

  11. Mwenda ,
    mukama yebazibwe! You are telling us that “if you knew then what you know now” you should have used a different strategy.
    Please, tell this to Besiigye.

  12. Denis Musinguzi

    Gen Muntu crafted his governance of the party under the same ideal of strengthening organizational structures and improving organizational capacity to marshal grassroots support. That was even his point of anchor as he campaigned to wrestle the party flagbearership from Besigye. His bid for attaining the best for the party was bogged by party squabbles from Besigye diehard supporters. Because the lBesigye’s supporters owe him their support based on passionate loyalty, their obsession with the main could not help them understand the powerful message and counsel that Muntu was bequeathing to the party’s future chance at winning government. As they say, the rest is history.

  13. Denis Musinguzi

    While talking to journalists at his country home in Rwakitura shortly after his fifth reelection, President Museveni, true to his strategic political foresightedness, was already taking stock of what didn’t go well in places such as Kampala, Kasese, Wakiso etc where NRM performed dismally, and thinking of what to do ahead of 2021. I have not heard within FDC any honest conversation of their areas of weakness and and what they seek to do in 2021. Instead they are crying foul! It’s is this lack of foresightedness, a pathology that Muntu sought to cure, that constrain FDC’s internal ability to reorganize. They carry on with false hope that the passion from some circles about Besigye alone is enough to win government. They either adjust their strategies or cement themselves as perpetual run-ups!

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