Social media and journalism was discussed by media practitioners at the Soma Connect event at the Nailab at the Bishop Maigua Gardens in Nairobi on Wednesday, May 11, 2016.
Soma Connect is a monthly event where Social media and its effects on different aspects of Kenyan life professional or otherwise is discussed every month. The event, which happens on the second Wednesday of every month, has discussed various topics in the past; last month for instance the discussion was in Social Media for development with speakers like Zawadi Nyong’o and Philip Ogola.
This month, the topic on the table would be Social Media and Journalism and the headline panelists were Kenya Film Classification Board CEO Ezekiel Mutua, Office of the President’s Director of Digital Dennis Itumbi and Nation Media Group’s NTV business editor Wallace Kantai. They would be supported by Citizen TV news editor Joseph Bonyo, Nation Newspaper’s Philip Mwaniki and blogger James Murua. They would all be moderated by TV presenter Tim Njiru.
It was designed to be in two phases. The first phase in the evening started with Itumbi, Mutua and Kantai moderated by Tim Njiru (the moderator is one of those guys you call with both names). Kantai would be leaving soon as he had a bulletin to worry about but he still gave his contribution. His presentation spoke about his concern as to whether he will still be useful as a journalist where everyone is a content creator with their phones. Itumbi on his part spoke about journalism and how it has changes since he was first a journalist and when he left first as a freelancer and eventually to government.
Finally Mutua who is the most spoken about government employee in recent times with his role at the Kenya film and classification board. His was an explanation of the role of the organisation that he currently led as well as how they are working.
It was a great discussion that we were enjoying with Itumbi revealing that he would earn peanuts, not actual peanuts, of around 20k a month with Baraka FM before working with Voice of America where his fortunes changed. This was because he had a decent salary with the American firm whilst doing extremely lucrative freelance work with a South African firm. This led him to believe that the age of social media might actually more of a boon than journalists want to imagine as the market for their content as it is more valuable. It was instructive for any journo who wanted to leave the madness of a newsroom, its pressure and the pay that could be better.
The second phase of the discussions saw Wallace Kantai leave to do his interview therefore Mutua and Itumbi were joined on the stage by Bonyo, Mwaniki and Murua. Bonyo explained how in the broadcasting business had being changed by social media. Today Royal Media has set up a system that mined data from the field using social media unlike in the past where bulletins were decided in morning editorial meetings. The system has become more fluid to ensure that they aren’t missing stories. They have also focused on Day 2 journalism which involves more analysis which is why you will see more “talking heads” in the evening telling you what you might have missed.
Mwaniki explained how in spite of the announcement of doom of print newspapers because of the Internet and specifically social media the genre still has life. This especially applies where verifying of news stories and day 2 journalism is concerned. On his part Murua explained how Social media has changed the business of blogging as social media now helps the blogger in various ways. The social media is content for the blogger as well as being a way to promote one’s content. One can also sell content that is on their social media channels.
With the panelists having finished their presentations, the chats with the audience started and they were robust. A great evening was had by all.
See y’all next month folks.