Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Digital Journalism (MADJ)

First Supervisor/Advisor

George Nyabuga

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Peter Kimani


Graduate School of Media and Communications


The media landscape is facing an unprecedented crisis characterised by dwindling revenue, technological disruption, audience retention challenge, and competition from other forms of media and technology firms, with growth in digital media unable to cover the shortfall. In Kenya, the revenue crisis has morphed into the shrinking of newsrooms through massive sacking and loss of jobs, profit warnings by leading media houses and delayed payment of staff salaries. One of the main drivers of shrinking newsrooms is because of audience fragmentation and segmentation that has led to the rise of niche platforms fighting for the same revenue with mainstream media. The challenging media landscape calls for a rethink of the media business, especially on new revenue models. Media houses are now looking more to reader revenue as opposed to over-reliance on advertising revenue. The main of objective of this study was to explore membership as a revenue model for digital media in Kenya. The other specific objectives were to find out the revenue models existing in digital media in Kenya and to draw guidelines and membership incentive list for digital media in Kenya. This was an exploratory study that used qualitative method where 11 media leaders from eight media houses in Kenya were interviewed to give their views on the existing revenue model and their understanding of the viability of membership as a revenue model in digital newsrooms. From their views the study came up with a list of seven incentives media houses can use to attract and retain members. Membership being a new topic in Kenya this study relied on a document analysis of membership programs globally. Document analysis of the Membership Puzzle Project helped to illustrate the steps a media house should take while setting up a membership program using their Membership Guide.