Maseru, 10 November 2008 - In Lesotho, a new independent news agency service covering the SADC region has been launched. The service is already providing local media and institutions with much needed regional news copy.
"The media market in Southern Africa is dominated by a few players, of which none treats our increasingly integrated region as such," says Lawrence Keketso, chief editor of the new "SADC+ service", which is distributed as an exclusive addition to the daily newsfeed of the agency afrol News. "In our region, we have national, mostly state controlled, news agencies serving national media, in addition to large foreign agencies that look at our region from outside. A locally based regional agency covering Southern Africa therefore is strongly needed," Mr Keketso added.
The SADC+ service is an initiative originating in Lesotho, where national media and their readers increasingly look beyond the borders of the Kingdom in their search for news and analyses. "What happens in South Africa, Zimbabwe or in Botswana increasingly has an impact on our lives as our region has become an economic, political and social block," notes Mr Keketso, who is also founder and editor-in-chief of Lesotho's long-lived "Mopheme" weekly newspaper.
The new service is a cooperation with the independent news agency afrol News, a major provider of African news since year 2000, actively used by independent newspapers throughout the continent. afrol News provides the basic daily African newsfeed of the service, while the Maseru-based agency provides a daily newsfeed addition focusing on the SADC region.
The SADC+ service is daily and includes both in-depth analyses from the region and shorter news stories. Photos are supplied on request. Contrary to afrol News services, the SADC+ newsfeed is not published on the Internet and is a subscription-only service.
Rainer Chr Hennig, chief editor of afrol News, says he is particularly proud to now be able to participate in the launch of these services. "In close cooperation with Southern African editors, we have worked for years to find a model of providing such services. We were lured into long processes with external donors to fund such a service, which proved compromising for our independence. Now, we just let the market talk, and indeed, that proved the key to launch an independent and locally-based news service for the SADC region." No external sponsor is behind the new service, guaranteeing a totally independent service.
Editors Keketso and Hennig now invite Southern African media, institutions and individuals to contact the Maseru agency and ask for a free trial. "We are sure to deliver a convincing product that will become a major contribution to reporting about the region," both agree.
About afrol News: