Surviving ten years in the tumultuous politico-economic environment of Sudan is an achievement in itself for any newspaper. And for an English language daily like Sudan Vision such achievement should not go unnoticed given the usually narrow readership base of newspapers that publish in foreign languages.
Now as it was ten years ago Sudan Vision continues to address a special audience. Being an English language daily in a country where Arabic is the mother tongue of the bulk of population and the official language, the paper shoulders a special responsibility.
Its reader is either a Sudanese with a relatively good educational background that allows him or her to read and comprehend what is written in English, or a foreigner whose English language is the medium for communication.
That is a special reader, who may not have information, but is relatively opinionated and can easily judge what he gets in terms of news and analysis. Moreover, he has access to other media outlets to get information.
This is a continuing challenge Sudan Vision managed to sail through in its past ten years in publishing. And as it ventures into its second decade, the mission does not seem to be getting any easier.
Sudan Vision celebrates its 10th anniversary in a country very much different than the one when it started publishing a decade ago. The separation of South Sudan has a direct impact of losing a good portion of readership in addition to the fact that the country is going through an economic shock as a result of loss of oil revenues. Sister publications in Arabic are finding it difficult to adjust and some have already opted to close down. But on the other hand, with separation went a number of English language newspapers.
These are really tough times for Sudanese press, but with problems there are always opportunities. The opportunity before Sudan Vision is how to make use of this development and be a source of information and analysis of what is going on in Sudan. It is the old prescription of resorting to professionalism, which is the safeguard for any publication in the changing environment. Moreover, it is an opportunity to forge ahead making use of a relatively wider margin to publish that English language publications usually enjoy.
How to compensate for the loss of southern readership that could be translated into figures and revenue seems to be the biggest challenge facing the paper. Over the past ten years Sudan Vision seems to have managed to survive economically and it needs more than just looking at the past to venture into the future. The way forward is through providing quality service that could be an attraction in itself for new readership. Success in being able to cover news and follow up with analysis and investigative reports will provide the paper with new inroads in areas and markets unchartered before.
For variety of reasons, Sudan print media is weak in the area of news coverage and that is where Sudan Vision can win and expand its market share, not only in quantity, but in quality too.