Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Digital Journalism (MADJ)

First Supervisor/Advisor

George Nyabuga

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Joy Mueni


Graduate School of Media and Communications


The changing media landscape in a digital era has led to increased competition between legacy and new media as the clamour for audience attention takes centre stage. As more people move to access their news online, online-only journalistic brands, otherwise known as digital native news websites, are giving mainstream media a run for their money. These sites are tapping more on internet penetration and digital technologies to drive traffic to their sites particularly using social media as a window. These digital native sites are typically big on photos, bear flashy and bold headlines and are more entertainment-focused, emphasising attracting eyeballs rather than informing. Typically, their sensationalised content places more importance on celebrities, human interest stories, crime and entertainment. The growing traffic numbers on the digital native sites indicates that consumers are pulled in by the content published there, despite the pedigree of legacy media, which is more credible and has access to authoritative sources. With growing audience numbers on the digital natives, advertisers are also migrating from legacy media, meaning that advertising revenues that would have otherwise been going to legacy media is now shared with emergent digital native news sites. This study sought to determine the extent of sensationalised content on the digital native news sites, the motivation for consuming this content, and the uses and gratification obtained by the audience. It sought to fill the limited empirical data gap regarding what drives the audience to digital native websites in Kenya and the gratification derived from the consumption of content published there. The findings are vital in helping the industry survive as legacy media rethink their operating strategies to remain afloat in a digital era. The results indicate that consumers of content on digital native news websites prefer to read and share news human interest stories, those touching on celebrities and that contain visual elements majorly for entertainment purposes. At the same time, social media platforms are the ideal access points for this content.