Date of Award
Executive Masters in Media Leadership and Innovation (EMMLI)
Graduate School of Media and Communications
This study seeks to investigate how news organisations can tap into the interactivity, convenience and fast speeds of the social, multi-media networking site WhatsApp to aid in both news gathering and processing, as well as convergence. It is prompted by the fact that Kenyan media are at a crossroads. As they transition from analogue technologies, they are faced with the dilemma of choosing which new habits and processes to adopt. To make matters worse, even before they settle on the right technology, they are being forced to adopt the concept of convergence, where the various print, audio, and visual platforms operate as one, gaining material from the same pool and distributing it to various platforms. But does it have to be this hard? Can New Media technologies, especially social networking sites based on Web 2.0 platforms, make news gathering and convergence easier for traditional media houses? Using the case study approach, it will glean insights from a purposive sample of seven respondents drawn from the talent pool of one of the region’s largest media companies, the Nation Media Group. The research takes qualitative research and a case study method to sample a news correspondent in the field, a news editor based in Nairobi, a Web publisher based at the Nation Media Group headquarters in Nairobi, a Web producer, a content aggregator, a photographic editor, and a media manager. It seeks to answer the following questions using interviews and document analyses: (i) How is WhatsApp used to ensure efficient convergence and collaboration of platforms at Nation Media Group? (ii) In what ways can the use of WhatsApp be improved to allow better, faster, convenient and reliable filing of news and information at Nation Media Group? and (iii) What are the professional and ethical policies around the use of WhatsApp as a content sharing tool at the Nation Media Group? The findings of this study will be analyzed and presented thematically and will be of significance to the Kenyan and regional media landscape as they are likely to find application in any modern newsroom. They could also help bring down the cost of setting up converged desks in newsrooms, sometimes running into tens of millions of shillings, to a negligible fraction of that expenditure. The Daily Nation, Kenya’s largest print title by circulation, will provide an ideal site for the study because of its multi-media channels and wealth of expertise. Also, as the Nation Media Group in the last quarter of 2022 embarks on an ambitious newsroom re-organisation project, the cross-referencing of the experiences on the ground and the untapped potential of WhatsApp would make for interesting observations.
Mwinzi, Bernard. (2023). Social media and journalism: a study of Whatsapp use in newsroom convergence at Nation Media Group in Kenya (Unpublished Masters Project). Nairobi: Aga Khan University.