Topography Of Kenya’s New Media

Media has traditionally been a communication platform in diverse dimensions including advocacy, news sharing, entertainment, education, and awareness creation. Media Coverage in Kenya has grown with the increase in vernacular radio stations and the rise of social media since 2009. Today, social media has replaced radio as the first channel of information sharing and as the most widely used platform thanks to a mobile phone penetration rate of more than 70% and a high broadband subscription. Television broadcasting was hit by the digital migration of 2014 where content producers were allowed the latitude to air their production without necessarily owning a television station provided an agreement is reached between producers and broadcasters. A decrease in the circulation of newspapers since 2013 is also a trend that threatens print media despite being a stable revenue earner from the advertising business.

While social media uptake continues to spike in a country where the population mean is 20 years, the topography is not without obstacles. Among the obstacles that need to be addressed in social media are skills gaps among content producers, resource shortage in acquiring the right infrastructure and a policy gap to regulate the social media space which is highly infested by fake news, plagiarism, and incompetence. Other obstacles are little or no evidence-based research, forensic analysis, data-driven journalism, and excess attention on politics at the expense of other subjects like health, economy, culture and the environment.

Ownership of media in Kenya has continuously grown especially in seeing over 17,000 bloggers rise with prominent sites. Among these bloggers, at least a third of them are dependent on the enterprise for a living. Mainstream media ownership however is in the hands of few where HH Prince Karim Agha Khan, Moi’s family, S.K Macharia, Kenyatta’s family, Patrick Quarcoo, Late Chris Kirubi’s family, Raila Odinga and Wiliam Ruto are some of the leading shareholders in Kenya’s most prominent media houses. Kenya also hosts international media entities and is a regional bureau of top international news organizations. The big media houses are employing adaptive mechanisms to industry changes by integrating hybrid content production models for online audience advertisers. Media houses are pursuing newsroom convergence where journalists are required to be multi-skilled with thorough research competencies that meet multimedia needs. Technology is on constant upgrade across the media industry in Kenya as it is the greatest force shaping media execution.

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