Friday, February 08, 2008
The world, they say, is three days; yesterday, today and tomorrow. Through evolution & revolution, it has evolved into its present day situation.
Here at the Daily Observer, we have three days; call them BD: Before Dida; DD: During, and AD: After Dida. In case you are wondering who this Dida Halake is, he is some grey bearded Ethiopian - Kenyan pan-africanist who now makes a home of The Gambia, the motherland of his three lovely children: Hassan, Hassan Jnr, and Jainaba.
Well, the intent here is not to explore the family affairs of this old MD of ours, but to assess performance of an assignment he has been in charge of for 100 days now. He was appointed as the MD of the Daily Observer on the 2nd of November 2007.
There has been changes on the countries most widely read and its the views of our esteemed readership is to be respected and patriotic news media.
These though, would not come without some painstake decision. The result, in terms what is expected of a news outlet like the Daily Observer, has been echoed by you the readers.
Is it a revolution or an evolution?
Dida Halake himself prefers not to talk to the paper he has helped transform. However, there is always a way of getting through a battling situation. The people that can best reflect the real issues are those that work closely with Mr Halake.
I managed to talk to six of his key colleagues at the Daily Observer.
Andrew Dacosta, Deputy MD
His first two weeks were really scary as he came and started firing here and there. I think he did that based on assessment of the performance of the staff. To be honest, I think there has been a lot of improvement in all quarters since he took over.
In fact, at the moment we can’t meet the demand of the newspaper vendors which means more people find the paper more interesting than before. Interestingly he has made a lot of restructuring. Deserving staff members have been promoted and entrusted with more responsibility. The general atmosphere is that everybody is happy and things are moving on. Now the editorial department finishes work as early as 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Financial structures have also started to improve as he is active in the market, securing long term contracts from reputable companies such as Gamtel for the benefit of the Daily Observer. He is organising his staff in such a way that an SMT (Senior Management Team) has been created which is a forum for all the line managers to discuss issues pertaining to their departments.
I think in a nutshell there is strong future for the paper and for the Observer Company.
Pa Malick Faye, Assistant Deputy MD
Daily Observer under Dida is rapidly moving forward. There has been so many changes, among them the establishment of what we call a senior management team or SMT. This body is like a National Assembly for the Daily Observer.
Its members meet on a weekly basis, every Wednesday. During our deliberations, we agree to disagree. Sometimes the MD comes up with proposals and if we think they are not viable we turn them down, and often he goes by it. There has also been the establishment of a five man cabinet team which meet every Friday. It discusses pertinent issues that have direct bearing on the day to day running issues of the company. We now have collective participation in the way and manner the company is run.
Generally we are now in the picture of the administration of the Daily Observer. We must thank Dida for that. His style of rewarding people based on their performance, and the fact that he guides us - because some of us are young in the field, has all helped in the boosting of staff moral especially the editorial department.
Ebrima Jaw Manneh, deputy editor-in-chief
Any ascension to leadership comes along with specific reforms, which may very in their diversity. I believe it is the objective of every new leader to build on the successes of the forerunners and in some instances fill the gaps that have the inclination to dampen the ultimate objective of an institution. There is always a variation in a style of approach and priortisation. These are what makes leadership distinctive from one person to another.
The Daily Observer is still cruisting through an avalanche of challenges. However it is gratifying to say that a lot of progress are being registered under the leadership of Dida Halake. He started of as if there was blitz in Observer.
But since he took charge of the mantle of leadership of these company his first priority was restructurisation of the editorial department which is the nucleus or the nerve centre of the company. Since then the changes have been paying dividends at all fronts. You do not need a weatherman to tell you to which direction the winds is blowing. As readers might have realised, quality of the paper has tremendously improved as it could evidently be traced in content of the newspaper as well as its presentation. More is been done to push the paper to a higher heights.
But if the Daily Observer should maintain its lead role as the flagship of Gambian journalism, it will require such a robust reform to maintain its glory the challenge is that how far is the management prepare to go extra mile to maintain this ruptious momentum.
The MD is gifted for the fact that he has a multicultural background, having lived in East Africa, Europe and now West Africa, where in a country like The Gambia, culture and social matters are given high premium. We are confront with countless situations which we cannot afford to shy away from.
I hope with time, the MD will adapt to these sacrosanct cultural and traditional norms, which if we compromise can tear families and societies apart. Maybe a soft approach to this from the MD will mean another credit for his leadership.
Generally, it has been fantastic working in the Daily Observer under the new MD. I congratulate him for a job well done for the past 100 days.
Abdoulie John, deputy editor-in-chief
Since appointment, Mr Halake completely changed the pattern of operations by involving all the departments in the management of the company.
He set what we call senior management (SMT) whose members are drawn from the various department of the company.
Now, everybody has a say in the way the company is managed. This is a good approach. if you want to make an effective use of your human resource you have to allow them to add their quota in the running of the company.
So, if we continue with such a pattern we are certainly on course to setting a newspaper group capable of embracing the sub region and beyond.
As a pan-Africanist, I feel he is fitting for this job as he has put the paper at the centre stage of the debate of African unity.
He has a vision and a mission and he will certainly deliver. I want to appeal to the board to provide him with the necessary means towards consolidating these gains.
Abubakar Sanyang, Marketing Manager
Dida’s coming has ushered in a fundamental difference, although there are some similarities with his predecessors. In all he has a unique way of doing things. The restructuring he has put in place tells you of his mission.
The formation of the SMT is a very unique and brilliant achievement. My team of marketing and collectors meet everyday to access previous days’ performances, and this is what makes it unique. The SMT assesses the overall performance of the company. As a member you are not restricted. It is a very open forum where you express yourself without fear, or without being intimidated.
We used to have a situation wherein decisions were taken unilaterally, regardless of the aftermath.
Now the quality of the paper has increased and the mode of our stories has changed steadily. The stories are the basis of our market. we are moving from the system of repetition of stories. And that is why there is now a wider circulation.
Our sales used to drop significantly because of our stories. The quality of the paper has also received a significant upliftment, although the printing cost has also gone up. If you are the leader in a market you pay the price for it by making competition high and expensive for your competitors. Time keeping has also improved. There is an increase level of discipline in times of reporting for work. I wish him all the best.
Lamin M. Dibba, deputy editor-in-chief
Dida is a catalyst. He is a complete revolution as far as the day to day running of the paper is concern. Although the future cannot be foretold, we look forward to the journey.
I have the conviction that everyday of our life we can make a beginning with a happier one, as far as his management is concerned. He has genuinely catapulted our status.
I have worked with so many managers but amongs them Dida is like a gem. May be it is God’s grandour that he is administering the Daily Observer company like that. I pray to God, the creator, the sustainer, and the developer to crown his efforts to the pride and joy of the staff.
One thing I admire about him is that he listens to people and respects their views. Every sincere person is looking for such a good manager like Dida. This is what we call a good manager, who one can be proud of. I want to put to his notice that reporters need a van to travel up and down the country so that we can cover stories from the whole country. Gone are the days when we used to sleep at the Daily Observer!
Author: by Kemo Cham