Title

A changing profession: examining newsroom roles and skills in the digital age

Date of Award

1-30-2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Digital Journalism (MADJ)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Nancy Booker

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Joy Mueni

Department

Graduate School of Media and Communications

Abstract

This study examined how journalists can survive in the newsrooms in Kenya in the digital age. The study was guided by four research questions: (1) What are the emergent newsroom roles in the digital age? (2) What retooling and reskilling do media workers need to survive in the digital age? (3) How do journalists acquire the new skills? (4) What role has digital disruption played in the reorganisation of newsrooms? The study used two theoretical frameworks: The theory of disruptive innovations and de-professionalisation lens. The researcher conducted face to face in-depth interviews with eight journalists from four media houses namely: British Broadcasting Corporation (Nairobi office), Nation Media Group, Standard Group Ltd and Royal Media Services as well as two key informants. All the respondents were purposively selected. The study found out that digital disruption has created new roles in the Kenyan newsrooms which have been taken up by both journalists and non-journalists and that the disruption has necessitated reskilling and retooling of journalists and those who fail to adapt are eventually forced out of the newsrooms. The study also found out that most journalists are learning new skills on their own with media houses and media schools playing a peripheral role. This despite the fact that, as the study found out, the roles of ensuring journalists acquire new skills rest with individual journalists, media houses and Journalism Schools. Finally, the study found out that disruption has happened before in Kenyan media but digital disruption is different. While media houses have adapted well to past disruptions, this time around, digital disruption has not only forced some media houses to close down due to dwindling fortunes but has ended newsroom careers of many journalists. The study concluded that while most journalists are playing their part in responding to digital disruption, media houses and journalism schools are lagging behind. If this trend continues, it will keep hurting journalism more. The study recommends that media houses organise regular formal training for their journalists. Journalism schools should also update their training manuals to ensure their graduate transition seamlessly into the newsrooms. Media executives and administrators of journalism schools should also communicate regularly to ensure each side understands the needs of the other.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library

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