Managerial competencies among first-line news managers in South Africa's mainstream media : a newsroom management framework
Steyn, Elizabeth Fredrika
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In recent years, a number of changes characterised the business management environment nationally and internationally. These include global expansion of business activities, business alliances and expanding business interests across industries. Related changes also characterise the media environment. These comprise (amongst others) technological changes; globalised business interests and activities; increasing numbers of news events to be covered and increasing competition to do so. South African media enterprises have not escaped these changes. In fact, they face an additional challenge to adjust to changing political, economic and social landscapes that characterise South Africa post-1 994. Business owners and managers thus increasingly realise that people are among their most important assets and resources, and that they should manage these resources properly. However, traditional management approaches (also in the media) often neglected this aspect, as management styles were autocratic and top-down. Businesses are therefore now required to fit human resources management into a paradigm that benefits both staff and the enterprise. To achieve this, managers need expertise in six managerial competencies rooted in general management theory. These are communication, planning and administration, strategic action, teamwork, global awareness, and self-management. This study aimed to measure the importance attached to and current implementation of these competencies by first-line news managers in South Africa's mainstream media. This was done among first-line news managers and reporters from a representative sample of South African mainstream media titles. Effect size analyses identified gaps between the importance and implementation for all six competencies. In many cases, qualitative data from interviewees on higher management levels of media enterprises confirmed these gaps. This implies that human resources management in South Africa's mainstream media newsrooms is currently neither effective nor efficient. The study concludes with a proposed newsroom management framework based on the six managerial competencies measured. It is argued that implementation thereof could improve human resources management in newsrooms. This, in turn, could enable South African media enterprises to produce and distribute more professional news products to the benefit of internal and external stakeholders.