Document Type

Report

Department

Graduate School of Media and Communications

Abstract

We asked some clever journalists and media practitioners to peer into their crystal balls and tell us what they think the future holds for the Kenyan media.

Our predictions are intended to highlight the views of thought leaders on the key challenges and opportunities in Kenya’s media industry. This report builds upon a deep introspection of 2019 while combining decades of journalistic experience to produce distilled predictions for this year. We interviewed 34 industry leaders who provided us with some forward-looking contributions on their expectations and predictions for Kenya’s media in 2020.

The media industry in Kenya has been struggling with the economic implications of the digital disruption occasioned by the mobile phone, internet and social media platforms. The advertising business model has been eroded, compelling Kenyan media managers to rethink, recalibrate and re-evaluate their strategies. The business model is not the only casualty of digital disruption. Journalism - and the truth- have also come under fire. We continue to ask ourselves if the journalism we produce is really up to the challenge of digital disruption in the age of disinformation and misinformation, but more importantly, what can we do to prepare journalists for the unforgiving technological changes.

The big stories such as corruption, climate change, the growing disconnect between the people in power and the citizenry, identity politics and its characteristic dialectics emerged as critical themes in 2019 media’s coverage of the local political, socioeconomic and environmental, realities. In our, December Fireside Chat, we reviewed the 2019 media landscape and brought out three critical global issues that were given prominence in our local news diet. These issues were: the rise of the right wing in global politics, transitions of governments globally and the Donald Trump effect.

However, in the coverage of these stories, it emerged that prominence was given to incidences/singular event, and the stories were largely out of context. Moreover, it was evident from the views expressed in the December Fireside Chat that the big global stories were not situated within the context that appeals to the average Kenyan audience.

But all is not lost. The year 2019 also saw encouraging coverage of societal issues like homicides, femicides, depression, suicides, poverty and family feuds at a more personal level. These stories and the prominent coverage of these issues elicited public debate and remedial measures with most suggesting that could be a subtle but steady rise of constructive journalism in Kenya’s media scene.

It was also not lost on us that the media might have missed the big stories. One speaker noted, “the biggest story in 2019 is how we missed the big stories: the collapse of the world order; the weakening of the UN; struggling Universities; the American position on geopolitical issues; Cooperative Saccos that cannot service loans and the historic collapse of the authority of religious leaders.

The year 2020 will still be characterised by technological disruptions as the demand for solid, investigative journalism takes root. Storytellers will continue to grapple with the conundrum of understanding an increasingly younger, digital savvy audience that is spoilt for choice on good journalism that is available for free on the Internet.

Publication

The Innovation Centre

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