Macharia Wamugo has had a successful 20-year career in journalism. He has seen it all – from the typewriter and videotape era to the digital transformation. Leading media companies are changing their structure, investment and overall news delivery. As the number of online users and viewers increases, content producers will continue to rely on the devices they utilize.
In 2021, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Macharia chose to apply to AKU's Executive Masters in Media Leadership and Innovation (EMMLI). He is now gearing up for convocation and cannot wait to walk across the stage and accept his hard-earned degree.
Carol Oyola from the Office of Strategic Communications caught up with him a few weeks before convocation to learn about his journey.
Why did you apply to the EMMLI programme?
I realized that we needed to evaluate the leadership in Kenya's newsrooms. We were witnessing a disruption caused by digital technologies in the newsroom. The majority of newsroom leaders came from the era of typewriters and traditional media. I witnessed the transition from analogue to digital, and now I'm 'midwifing' the digital disruption and what it has caused in the media. I felt I needed a place where I could learn the abilities necessary to lead a modern newsroom.
How did you find out about the EMMLI programme at AKU?
Some of my colleagues had graduated from the first cohort in 2023, and they served as a source of encouragement for me. I applied after hearing firsthand about the course's impact oin their careers.
What were your highlights from the programme?
This course has taught me a lot about leadership. When I started the programme, I was working as a News Planning Editor for the China Global Television Network (CGTN). Then, in the middle of the course, I moved to TV47 as Group Editorial Director, where I was in charge of spearheading the transformation. If I hadn't been a student at AKU, this may have been a very different experience.
One faculty member helped define my journey to transform the TV47 newsroom. Professor Gachunga led a lesson on managing change, and the advice she offered us is what I followed. The process was stressful, but I was well prepared to handle it.
The leadership courses, which featured corporate leaders involved in industry transitions, were informative. They shared their experiences coping with the same issues we (my class) were facing when managing a team, which aided me in leading the young people I manage today. Whatever I learned at AKU has significantly benefited me, and I highly recommend this programme.
Were there any challenges you encountered during your study?
We began the EMMLI course during the COVID-19 pandemic, so we did not have as many face-to-face sessions as I would have expected. The usual stress on balancing studies and workload, as well as fund, were present, but they did not deter me.
However, the faculty – in Kenya and abroad – were really supportive and motivated me to complete the programme.
A special mention goes to Professor Bitange Ndemo, who taught us new perspectives, such as how media can leverage on blockchain. This influenced my capstone project, which focused on content distribution and monetization in the era of blockchain.
What are your future aspirations?
I am now 'board' ready. Let me explain.
Following my interactions with CEOs and top-level corporate leaders, as well as the module on Finances by Dr Muturi, I believe I am now prepared to advance to the next level. I am excited to serve on any organization's board. Perhaps I will also explore being a lecturer because I have expertise to give.