In December 2022, INMA and Google News Initiative (GNI) awarded their third annual Elevate Scholarship to 50 news media professionals from 31 countries. This series features these impressive media professionals who are shaping our industry.
As managing editor, Lerato Peggy Matheka leads a team of 12 at Newsday Media and has the distinction of being the only female managing editor in the Lesotho commercial newspaper landscape. The company publishes a weekly newspaper every Friday and broadcasts packaged news bulletins on YouTube and the company’s social media platforms.
“I took over the company in 2019 when my predecessor left,” she said, admitting that she had “limited leadership skills” when she first took the reins. But that changed quickly.
“Since I took over, I have improved Newsday newspaper into a hybrid product that publishes both physically and digitally, a move which was meant to mitigate the COVID-19 induced lockdowns and to diversify the company’s business model,” Matheka said. “Soon after the normalisation of life, in 2021 I piloted digital journalism using YouTube and Facebook as broadcasting platforms.”
The vision behind using those platforms is to expand the business and close the gap left by the national broadcaster of impartial and independent visual journalism, she said.
Matheka chose digital because of easy access. As a growing and developing journalist, and now a media manager, her capabilities in writing thought-provoking stories have not only won her several local accolades but have allowed her to improve the innovative creation of media products.
Through digital formats, her company can meet the needs of its marginalised audience with limited buying power and allow them to have access to ethically produced news.
“I have been a practising journalist for 14 years, two of which I have been managing the company, a role that has expanded my ability to lead and learn on the job as well as directing not only content but the profitability of the company,” she noted.
She was selected to participate in the International Visitors Leadership Programme by the American Embassy in 2014 and was named a U.S. President Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) Media Champion 2019. Matheka is currently a member of the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative Lesotho (REPSSI) Advisory Board.
A major goal for Matheka is to “lead Newsday Media into being a leading impartial, credible, most trusted, best paying, and independent media house in Lesotho.” And, through the Elevate Scholarship programme, she looks forward to learning more leadership skills that will help her better understand the business aspect of news.
Her unique position as the only female leader in an industry dominated by men in her country has made her more determined to move inclusivity to the top of her agenda: “Being an outcast has been the order of the day, and inclusion is at the heart of my work. Thus, looking at marginalised issues — and putting them under a microscope — and driving policy change is how I can contribute to inclusiveness, and to further give development opportunity to the marginalised groups even from within the company.”