One can unapologetically state that without brave journalists, we would have lost more lives to Covid-19. Health care workers alone could not contain the growing numbers. With the world under lockdown, reporters went far and beyond to ensure that people are educated and informed about countering the virus.
They continually work with experts to fact check and verify growing misinformation on the coronavirus and vaccines. As we applaud the role of health workers globally and other professions in fighting the pandemic, we must not forget the role of media in this battle. History must always salute the press in such uncertain times.
This idealistic mentality that journalism can create a better world comes with unconventional thinking, moving away from traditional journalism or media. It takes media owners, practitioners, and innovators to intentionally invest in a media that works and serves everyone, not a few, or create a media that we want our children to consume.
It starts with questioning the existing traditional systems of reporting. Is it enough for journalists to play the “watchdog role, or do the audiences today expect more than that?” What does “balance and objectivity” mean in covering unpredictable times like the Covid-19? Do we stick to the status quo or take a stand while following journalistic ethics and principles?
Skilled journalists needed
The next generation of storytellers will need more than just market skills. They need a village of community mentors to raise them and a network to create strategic connections and opportunities. The Media Challenge Initiative foundation is anchored on the desire to use journalism to change the world by developing a one-wo/man-army-journalist concept. The thinking is driven by today’s changing media needs and trends and the next decades.
A report by Poynter Institute on Core Skills for Journalists showed that for a journalist to succeed today, he/she should be an “applied psychologist, resourceful researcher, good writer, responsible analyst.” Such a journalist must also possess aggressive digital skills and have a strong understanding of journalism fundamentals and a solid editorial ethic. It isn’t easy to find all these qualities in one journalist.
Through our interaction with media managers in Uganda, one complaint stood out. Most of the media graduates were half-baked. They didn’t have the required relevant market skills, which is a significant challenge across all professions.
To respond to the above need, we started asking ourselves, what are the media trends? What challenges will the next generations of storytellers and journalists face? Most importantly, how do we prepare them to tackle these challenges? If we want to use journalism to create a better world, how can we fashion a critical journalist who plays the traditional watchdog role and advances positive and social change?
The result of this reflection was the Next Gen Journalist Project, a four-phased program designed with a thoughtful and intentional vision of building the next generation of storytellers and journalists that we also call journalist-leaders. It starts with a mobile newsroom supporting students in over 15 universities with practical skills in storytelling, mobile journalism and youth participatory radio.
The training is then followed by live news reporting and anchoring auditions to identify a news team from each university to compete in the annual Inter-University Media Challenge. In this contest, the students are given a chance to participate in various journalism contests, including news anchoring and reporting, feature story (essay) writing, photography, radio features, video features, and ‘One Minute of Fame’ features. Journalism is a practical course, and the media contest, in this case, is a participatory methodology to prepare the students for a highly demanding market ahead of them.
The five pillars of journalist training
The live contest is also witnessed by a panel of judges who provide participants with constructive feedback and help the organization identify the best 26 students for the annual Media Challenge Fellowship program. The fellowship is a 25-day multimedia training program spread out over six months for the top two young journalists who emerge from the yearly Inter-University Media Challenge. The strength of the program is premised on five pillars;
Besides being exposed to an interactive practical journalism curriculum, each fellow is also connected one-on-one to a professional media mentor in the industry for individualized career guidance and support. At the end of the fellowship program, fellows are equipped with practical skills and are ready to break into the media industry. Through the mentorship and networking events with media managers, fellows can create their strategic connections and professional relationships to get work.
By creating a pipeline and database of talented young journalists, the MCI fellowship program has become a recruitment platform for media managers and improved Uganda’s media landscape.
The partnership will also ensure that local content is curated and distributed to better optimize the product and meet the needs of Kenyan online users.
Reporting on elections is, for many journalists, an opportunity to establish themselves as reliable political reporters. But the task comes with certain risks, particularly in the East African sub-region.
Stakeholders are now calling for concerted efforts, better planning and preparations for journalists before they are sent out on the field to cover Kenya’s high-stakes August 9 General Elections.
East Africa’s media grapples with a myriad of challenges whenever general elections approach. Not only do editors struggle with balancing the competing political interests, at times at the altar of professionalism, but individual journalists pay dearly, many suffering attacks in the course of their duties.
As Form One students settle into a new life in secondary school, this has also been a period of reflection. We have read tear-jerking and heart-warming stories of determined students who overcame many odds to get an education and how well-wishers came together in their aid.
There is renewed optimism in the Tanzanian media space following the ascension to power of President Samia Suluhu whose regime is keen to relax some of the laws deemed punitive to journalists and media houses
Uganda fell behind, whereas Kenya improved its press freedom ranking in the Reporters Without Borders 2022 Press Freedom Index. And after years of media freedom decline, Tanzania appears to be on the right track. But overall, media freedom activists say there is still work to be done.
A free and independent press is the cornerstone of any democracy and the foundation of economic success, mostly because through our free press, we’re able to hold the leadership to account.
To align with the changing times and stay relevant in the business, media houses are challenged to rethink their strategy and to adopt and understand obstacles and challenges they face towards rethinking and exploring alternative sources of revenue and on developing the digital strategy.
A team of young, Tanzanian tech-savvy communication professionals is dreaming big. It seeks to usher a new dawn in media business management in Tanzania by optimising employee output and offering consultancy to media businesses on how they can operate with a minimal budget but still attain their goals.
Bloggers and influencers have become an integral component of information sourcing across East Africa. The public uses blogs, privately run websites and social networks to crowdsource information from social networks, which they then publish and distribute. But it’s not all rosy for this group of content makers.
The chances of meeting a medical graduate practising journalism are usually very slim, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. But two Tanzanian physicians have broken away from that norm by inventing a start-up called Afyatoon. It uses visual art technology to tell compelling medical stories. They narrate to the EAST Site their experience and share their vision for the future.
Did you know that in 2021 Kenyans watched less TV and spent more time on social media? Or that some Kenyans rely on family, friends, or even social media icons and bloggers as a source of news and information? These are some of the conclusions highlighted in the 2021 State of the Media Survey conducted by the Media Council of Kenya (MCK).
The effects of the Covid pandemic continue to change the world in ways we had not imagined possible. The media is going through a painful transformation to keep up with changing production, distribution and consumption habits. In East Africa, Uganda’s Media Challenge Initiative (MCI) recently hosted a panel discussion on Media Viability comprising experienced journalists from Television, Radio, Print and Online/Digital media to address lessons learned from the pandemic. East Site’s Moses Mutente attended the panel and compiled this article.
In this commentary, Uganda-based journalist Caleb Okereke shares deep personal insights into why media schools in East Africa must rethink their curriculum. He stresses the need for trainers to begin teaching media ownership to better equip journalism students for the dynamic and cutthroat job market by taking us through his journey as a journalism student and media owner.
For the second year running, a survey commissioned by the Media Council of Kenya shows that the trust level in Kenyan media has nosedived, raising fundamental questions on how media will play its watchdog role more so with landmark elections set for August 9. EAST Site writer Isaac Swila explores.
Legacy media is currently caught between a rock and a hard place — the Covid pandemic and the rise and proliferation of social media has hit revenues hard. Some say this could signal the end of news as we used to know it. However, Ugandan decorated journalist Ernest Bazanye believes the industry will survive and thrive, but not without a fight.
Free media is often described as the fourth estate, the gatekeeper, the whistleblower, and many more. American singer Jim Morrison once said, “whoever controls the media, controls the mind.” No wonder governments worldwide try hard to control the press. But the media itself, particularly in Uganda, faces a severe identity crisis that requires urgent action, writes guest commentator Jimmy Spire Ssentongo.
World over, disinformation is a virus that continues to permeate newsrooms giving media managers and journalists a headache on how to deal with it. Dr. Myriam Redondo, a newsroom trainer in digital verification and associate professor in International Relations (PhD) explains how to tackle the virus in an engagement with EAST Site writer Isaac Swila.
No one sits down to write proposals only to seek money. There’s an idea, a vision, an important goal, the need for impact, and last but not least, the need for change.
According to the World Health Organisation there are between 60-80million people with disabilities in Africa and over 1 billion in the world, many of whom live under deplorable conditions owing to societal myths.
Kenyan voters will go to the polls on August 7, 2022, to elect new leaders. As expected, the media is burning the midnight oil, trying to develop strategies to cover the polls. But how prepared are they?
Tanzania has a massive digital gender gap. As a result, it is unlikely to hear stories about successful Tanzanian women, either in leadership or the media.
Ultimately, HCD is a toolbox containing multiple tools you can pick out, show your team how to use them, and ensure it becomes best practice
Mohammed Hammie is not your typical reporter. In 2019, the young Tanzanian swapped from being a regular journalist to media for community empowerment and has since specialised in telling stories about the human right to access clean drinking water, particularly in rural areas.
According to the MCK Chief Executive Officer, David Omwoyo, journalists eyeing political posts should be subjected to the same rules that apply to civil servants. That is to leave office six months to elections. But that’s not the only requirement.
The theses dwelt on thematic areas in Kenya’s media landscape, from solutions journalism, content analysis of the coverage of Covid-19 as well as data smog in the newsrooms, which the findings show is having a devastating effect on print journalists.
The study calls for solutions to structural, political, and societal conditions that jeopardize the future of media as a viable business and a source of high-quality journalism in East Africa
There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has altered our lives in unimaginable ways. Economies are bleeding. It has disrupted learning; millions have lost their jobs, while many others contend with reduced salaries. Yet, amidst the chaos and disruption, journalists – also hugely affected – have remained steadfast to their cause to tell stories of the pandemic. Some of them narrated their experiences to EAST site’s writer Isaac Swila.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the technological shifts have caused severe consequences to today’s press. However, Prof George Nyabuga says the writing has long been on the wall, yet many chose to bury their heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich.
Ever since 170 journalists from Kenya’s Standard Group were made redundant in 2020, media experts argue that convergence of business processes in the media industry is an inevitable and necessary step. The term convergence has dominated media houses for years. But what does it mean and why is it crucial for the future of journalism in the region?