Social Media and Journalism: A Changing Media Landscape in Kenya

In 2014, I had the pleasure of contributing to a fascinating production titled Exploring Kenya’s Media Policy Landscape: 1963-2013. Commissioned by the Media Policy Research Centre, I was tasked with exploring the impact of social media on journalism in Kenya. I assessed some conceptual frameworks on social media, social media’s effects on communication – the rise of citizen journalism, examples of social media users challenging traditional media (#someonetell…), as well as a critique of online citizen journalism. I also investigated social media adoption trends by mainstream (traditional) media, benchmarking the local against international media. The challenges and opportunities of social media for mainstream media, as well as social media’s implications for media policy (e.g. whether bloggers are journalists) round up the chapter contribution.

The working papers collection was officially launched on 27 February 2015.

Below is the executive summary of the working paper, and a link to the publication download (page 66- 90). I welcome feedback and additional thoughts on other factors to consider. (It was also very interesting and saddening to note the dearth of analysis on this subject matter during my literature review).

The [social media and journalism] chapter explores the impact of social media on journalism, with examples and analysis anchored in the Kenyan context. It begins with an overview of social media, the tools and practices shaping it, and dives deeper into the social media landscape in Kenya. Social media structure and adoption is increasingly challenging ‘traditional’ channels and agents of information dissemination in the country. Journalists and mainstream media are no longer the sole or primary source of breaking news. Citizens are now more connected with each other through platforms that enable conversation, co-creation and in some instances organizing towards collective action. Through social media, and citizen journalism, there has been an amplification of voices, groups and communities that would not otherwise attract mainstream media attention. Several examples of how social media users have challenged both local and international traditional media’s reportage on national issues are highlighted. Social media use, however, is hinged on opting in, which is a factor of access and affordability of Internet and (mobile) devices. The limitations notwithstanding, social media continues to be adopted by Kenyan media, informing various practices such as setting up of blog sections on the media’s online portals, use of social media to stir conversation around news content, introduction of social media editors, and social media policy guidelines for journalists. The role of journalism remains significant, to sift through vast volumes of data and information generated, and make sense of it through application of journalistic skills. Though social media hasn’t yet completely disrupted journalism and traditional media in Kenya, its significance and ubiquity continues to rise and challenge the latter’s practices. How social media impact straditional media’s monetization streams as well as media policies is also discussed. The chapter concludes with the recommendation that more research and studies on social media in Kenya should be conducted in Kenya, to better inform policy practices. Journalism practitioners, trainers, researchers and policymakers should continue to assess and appreciate social media’s value in Kenya towards improving the media industry and creating a more democratic society.

Highlights from the Highway Africa 2013 (#Highway13) Conference: Speaking Truth to Power?

Media Management in The New Age Session Highlights.
Presentations by Jude Mathurine, New Media Lecturer , Rhodes University and Chaacha Mwita, Thomson Foundation

This was an amazing, stirring conference filled with great sessions, presentations, insights and discussions. The Highway Africa conference is said to be the largest gathering of African journalists at any given time. There was a great representation of media practitioners, all in all, a great atmosphere.
The intense two-day conference programme  had participants deciding which sessions to attend, as it was not possible to sit in through all. Owing to the amazing impulses I got a sense of, I’ve tried to capture highlights from tweets generated from the good folk at the conference, under the #Highway13 hashtag. For ease of perusal, I storified the tweets thematically, as per concurrent sessions, especially from the second day of the conference. (Will try my best to capture highlights from day 1 as well.)
*UPDATE: Links to podcasts, and keynote address highlights from both days of the conference*
Highlights from Keynote Addresses:
Director of BBC Global News, Peter Horrocks, delivered a keynote address on Media, Politics and Accountability, summarized here. He spoke on the ethics of journalism, and how the BBC can and does support ethical standards in African media. (Full text of his speech also available here.) It was interesting to listen to the speech, as it came hot off the heels of BBC Africa’s Debate about the role of international media in Africa, in which I also happened to be a panelist.
“Ethical journalism ensures that phone hacking scandals are not repeated.” Peter Horrocks.
Dr. Peter Veirweij, on the second day, delivered a very interesting keynote on Data Speaking Truth to Power, where he emphasized why the future of journalism lies in data. His full presentation is available here. Some interesting highlights and ‘quotables’ from his presentation include:
Journalism is producing truth-seeking stories in the public interest based on data.
With the rise of social media we need a way to make the news, not just rehash it.
While using the tools of science for data journalism, it’s key to abandon the jargon of science (in reporting).
[VIDEO] Data Journalists are the new punks.

His full presentation is available here.
Highlights from Day 2’s (mid-morning)Parallel Sessions: 
 Themes covered include Internet Services, Privacy and Freedom of Expression (ethics, government role, social networks), Speaking truth to power? Who speaks? 
Whose truth? and  Youth Political Participation and Accountability (in South Africa).
It was unfortunate that these run as parallel sessions. I happened to be presenting on one about The role of Social Media & Alternative Media in Elections & Accountability, in which I shared findings from research conducted and projects deployed in Kenya during the 2013 General Elections. I didn’t get to attend most of these wonderful sessions, but thankfully insights were populated on Twitter, for curation here 🙂
Highlights from the Media Management in The New Age Session (day 2).

Presentations by Jude Mathurine, New Media Lecturer , Rhodes University and Chaacha Mwita, Thomson Foundation

I thoroughly enjoyed this session, as it addressed matters of media management, and managing the managers, with the Nation Media Group cited as a case study. The session was followed by the launch of a book with the same title: Media Management in the New Age: How Managers Lead Media in Eastern and Southern Africa   that I highly recommend to the practitioners in this space. The tweets curated here are highlights. More on these presentations available in the aforementioned book.

Here’s a link to the highlights: http://storify.com/NiNanjira/highway-africa-2013-conference-speaking-truth-to-p

Kenya Power: Help Us Help You!

Kenya Ingependa Kumeta. I propose this as a working slogan as you forge your way to efficiency, oh dear transmitter, distributor and retailer of electricity. You see, Kenya Yameta essentially is untrue; makes for a better fit alongside your Vision 2030 strategic plans.

 

 (Image Courtesy of Eugene Nyawara)

Continue reading “Kenya Power: Help Us Help You!”

#TwitterBigDebate about #TwitterBigStick: A Recap

If you roam the twitter-in-Kenya streets often, the #TwitterBigStick  hashtag is no new phenomenon to you. Based on the Big Stick ideology(via Mark Kaigwa), and coined by Sunny Bindra, its use has involved calling out overlapping tendencies by diplomat cars, school buses, privately owned and public service vehicles(whose license plates have been tagged;a dime a dozen they are), to critiquing poor bank service.

(Image courtesy of Motioncore.com) Continue reading “#TwitterBigDebate about #TwitterBigStick: A Recap”

Wining And Dining With Kenya’s Primaries: #ManRapho

One fine Thursday evening, the email came. It was titled, ‘Meet and Greet Hon. Tuju‘. It was an invitation to the KE blogger community to march towards the very confusing Upper Hill area to meet Rapho and listen to his vision for Kenya, critique his agenda seeing as we represent a very important interest group…bla bla bla…you know the usual.  Thursday evening invite for a Friday morning meetup. As in Friday, the following day. I had a few words for the Tuju team, but thankfully, my dear friend, @archermishale addressed the gaping insult. His post on politicians and social media, is a must read. [ Note to anyone who wants to meet with bloggers. We aren’t a bunch of wierdos who sit by their computers, clicking away at the interwebs and waiting upon thy beckoning to events. It’s a bit too ambitious to expect us to show up at an eleventh-hour invites. We are just as deserving of the same courtesy and apt time frame extended to any other interest group.] Continue reading “Wining And Dining With Kenya’s Primaries: #ManRapho”

Wining and Dining with Kenya’s Primaries: #VPMeetup

VP Meetup. *pauses for a moment…draws out a sigh and attempts to go through with the post*

A bunch of people have already shared their thoughts on said meetup. Here’s one by @kachwanya.

Something I’ve come to appreciate with this wave of ‘political seduction’ on one of the most levelling, if not the only levelling platform/forum in the world today,social media, is that objectivity can easily be thrown out the window,and with seemingly just cause! It is no secret that the #VPMeetup stirred up quite the sensation! It didn’t tip towards the positive for the most part. It can be argued that the memorable bit was the food and drink, because when it got down to the heart of the matter,well, it was a crowded shallow-end of a vast pool,which comprises a much bigger,more accommodating deep-end.

Into the meat of things. (Mind you,this is one bony chunk of meat.) Continue reading “Wining and Dining with Kenya’s Primaries: #VPMeetup”

Wining and Dining with Kenya’s Primaries: #DinnerWithPM

When I posed this rhetoric a couple of months ago, little did I know just how quickly my words would call out for answers/response. Well, here we are.

The past week has been a very interesting one. On Tuesday,August 30th, the long awaited #DinnerWithPM finally materialized. Then on Thursday, September 1st, the #VPMeetup came to be. Having attended both, gotta share my thoughts/opinions/findings/insights…

(If you don’t know who this is….sigh…)

Of course, for both forums, it was asked to submit questions as to what one would like to discuss with either party.

Now into the meat of it all. Continue reading “Wining and Dining with Kenya’s Primaries: #DinnerWithPM”

Kenyans 4 Kenya: Content Is King!!!

I contemplated, for one regrettable second, to ‘draw inspiration’ for this post’s title from this headline that has been properly addressed by Media Madness aka @mediaMK (and since redone), but I puked a little at the thought. (Moral of the story: do not go with such silly headlines in the name of trying to popularize articles!)

Back to the reason we are here. What is going on? I refer to this Kenyans 4 Kenya business. Continue reading “Kenyans 4 Kenya: Content Is King!!!”

Dinner with PM- What Questions Would You Like Answered?

Last week, through his official twitter account,Prime Minister Raila Odinga,(all protocol observed), expressed his intention to dine with tweeps,and asked Kenyans on Twitter to nominate those among them who would make good representatives at the round table forums that he occasionally has with various interest groups.

It was all the buzz last Wednesday,with many a tweep nominating themselves,and others. I recall the #dinnerwithPM hash tag making its way to my timeline when my friend Adelle nominated me,setting into motion the reason behind this post. Continue reading “Dinner with PM- What Questions Would You Like Answered?”

Social Media: What’s the Bottom Line?

Almost every conversation I engage in these days has the phrase ‘Social Media’ sneaked in.

I’ve met self-made gurus in this growing phenomenon,and been awed by the opportunities that ‘Social Media’ presents.

For those still not so clear on the definition of said phenomenon,do take the time to visit the world wide web and inform thyself. Heads up,by virtue of reading this post,you are engaging in…you guessed it…social media 🙂 *insert news-like dramatic voice*

In Kenya’s Social Media scene, we have seen remarkable interaction between corporate heads and their clients, something that was hitherto almost unfathomable. Brands have upped their game and are offering Customer Service via social media platforms,most notably Twitter. Prayers are ongoing for some ‘power’ monopolies to buy into the vision as well!

But is social media the new fad? Continue reading “Social Media: What’s the Bottom Line?”