The Messenger was founded this year as a media startup and a community of journalists in East Africa. We began working to foster a sober and intelligent brand of journalism that would fill a niche between local and national outlets and the global news agencies.
The Messenger pursues a less narrow, less parochial outlook than most national outlets, but it also has a more targeted, more regional focus than global mega-media, focusing on only about seven or eight countries from the Nile to the Ethiopian highlands to the Indian Ocean coast.
Our logo reflects our identity in a number of ways. First, the rich, jade-like green is a color often associated with reliability and dependability, both qualities that we strive to live up to in our journalism. Green is also distinctive and uncommon among news organizations, which sets us apart.
Secondly, the logo features Arabic calligraphy spelling out the word ‘Al-Murasil’ (المراسل) which means ‘the correspondent’, or translated more loosely, ‘the messenger.’ Arabic is a language with significant literary history in parts of our coverage area, particularly Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia, and it’s also one of our publishing languages. While there are other important literary languages in the Horn of Africa and East African countries where we work – including Swahili, Amharic, Tigrinya, and English – Arabic calligraphy is a highly developed art form and its aesthetic appeal is obvious.
A third significant feature of our logo is the shape: sleek, bold and almost arrow-like. The calligraphy swoops and rises, turns and dashes – yet it’s bold and clear. Journalism is like that too: it’s about speed and timeliness, but also accuracy and solidness.
The final key element of the logo is the feather quill seen to the left, which also stands in for the letter ‘alif in the calligraphy that spells out ‘The Messenger’. This symbolism refers to writing and editing – the skills and practices at the core of our profession as journalists. Other objects are obviously also part of the modern journalist’s toolkit – the camera, the keyboard, the smart phone – but perhaps none remains so elemental as the pen, or its pre-modern equivalent, the quill.
The quill conveys pictorially what The Messenger is all about. As journalists, we ourselves are not the message. We are merely bearers of the message – intermediaries, scribes, reporters, story-tellers. Our success or failure as journalists depends largely on how faithful we are seen to be in that role.