Caption: East Festival 2022 planning committee members pose for a photo to mark the end of the three-day festival.
Local solutions, global Impact; I am tired of these cycles, we are moving in circles, the change starts with us. That was part of the ‘soetry’ (mixture of song and poetry) shared as one of the Keynote addresses during the second edition of The East African Storytelling Festival (EAST Fest). Held in Kampala, Uganda, and hosted by the Aga Khan University and DW Akademie Media Futures Project, hundreds of researchers, media scholars, students, lecturers, and innovators gathered to discuss and exchange ideas on the future of the media in the region.
Graced by local government representatives, Germany’s Ambassador to Uganda, and high-rated journalists such as Larry Madowo from CNN and Nancy Kacungira from BBC, the conference set to understand how we can build an informed and thriving community through journalism.
Making her opening remarks while posing the question, is journalism still good enough, Dean Graduate School of Media and Communications (GSMC) Dr Nancy Booker noted the timeliness of the festival’s theme and how it challenges storytellers to tell stories about our continent innovatively.
“Ladies and gentlemen, to build informed communities, to be at the cutting edge of influencing local change and to have a global impact, we need to find unique and innovative solutions. Most importantly, we need to offer more collaborative and dynamic experiences in helping communities address global challenges such as climate change at the local level and not leaving anyone behind,” she noted. She’s also cognisant that journalists are storytellers and NOT experts in the issues the world is grappling with today but also pointed out that media remains the principal source of news information.
Echoing Dr Booker’s sentiments on the festival’s theme, the BBC presenter and news anchor begged to ask a few questions as she gave her Keynote address. Drawing from her thoughts on journalists asking the right questions, she asked, “What problem are we solving? Can we be trusted? Can we be impartial? Sometimes we are stuck in traditions of doing because we haven’t had time to step back and think about why and what we’re doing. That’s why I think today is such a great space for us to sit back and reflect on the questions that could help us shape the kind of journalism that we want to see in our local and global community.”
On day two, MiC launched its latest report on media innovation in East Africa. Calling on governments, media compliance institutions and media organisations, the report, ‘The State of Innovation and Media Viability in East Africa’, analysed eight major variables: newsroom structure and resources, media ownership and business models, organisational capacity, innovation culture, journalism culture, financial trends and results, content quality and COVID-19.
While highlighting some of the findings, DWA Program Director Ms Julia Gering, mentioned that the young generation is actively getting involved in the media sector as more media start-ups begin to spring up. She ties this to the reason for EAST Fest existence and MiC’s flagship program, Innovators-In-Residence (IiR), that supports such start-ups through their incubation and acceleration process.
“Generally, the findings on the age of the media indicate that the East African media sector is considerably young. Save for the print News Media Organisation that are predominantly 11 years and older, about 60% of TV, radio, digital and multimedia platforms have existed for 10 years or less. Young age of media firms may be a disadvantage in terms of lack of experience and high start-up failure rate, but studies have also shown that young media organisations experiment more with new areas and explore possible new business models without the added hurdle of undoing systems entrenched for decades,” said Julia.
Day three was a day to celebrate and support media start-ups and media innovators. Residents within the IiR program, took centre stage and showcased how they did it and what pitfalls they bridged on their journey. They also moderated capacity building sessions on mobile journalism and collaborative life writing workshops. Participants were also taken through mental health in journalism, how to overcome the gender gap in media and challenges of community journalism in East Africa.
With sentiments like informative, engaging, eye-opening, skilled, interactive, timely, myth-buster etc, all indications pointed to a successful EAST Festival 2022. Over 500 participants in three days discussing over 50 topics, it was one to remember. The festival closed in the most African way; dance and music celebrating media viability and innovation in East Africa.
The report specifically analysed eight major variables which include: newsroom structure and resources, media ownership and business models, organisational capacity, innovation culture, journalism culture, financial trends and results, content quality and COVID-19.
Mudi, in her role as Media Council of Kenya regional coordinator in charge of Mombasa(covering the entire coastal region), has found herself at the forefront in advocating and fighting to protect journalists’ rights, culminating in her being awarded for her peace efforts in the run-up and during the 2022 general elections in Kenya.
The 2022 general elections have been mentally draining for journalists, some of whom have had to stay on the campaign trail for over a year. Others have had to toy with the tough call of managing teams in the newsroom. East Site’s Isaac Swila and political writer Rawlings Otieno recount their experiences
What role did social media influencers play in the election? What voice did they give in political discourses during and around the election period? And to what extent did political candidates involve the influencers in marketing their manifestos to sway votes in their favour? East Site writer Steven Omondi unpacks the details
The media industry is experiencing enormous transformation as new digital trends emerge. With the vast opportunities that the digital space offers, media owners and content producers must deliberately adapt to how the audience consumes content.
With the increased Digital Technology at the palm of just anybody; there are a lot of information that distort whether deliberately or not highlighting the need of robust Fact0checking as Asha D. Abinallah explains
Is there a danger in media personalities having a vibrant social media presence? Assuming they have a massive media following, should they self-regulate and filter what they post? And when they engage with followers, should their opinions be taken as personal, or does it represent the journalist’s media house? East Site writer Isaac Swila explores
Media stakeholders are raising concerns over the lack of gender-inclusive reporting in East African newsrooms. They want concerted efforts to ensure more female journalists get equal opportunities like their male counterparts.
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.
The news industry is constantly changing, and in the last few years, User Generated Content (UGC) has become a ubiquitous feature in news sourcing and packaging. However, media houses and journalists need to establish verification and credibility safeguards to avoid the misinformation trap.
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?