Training and Dialogue wrap-up

We had successful regional dialogues – reporting on digital inclusion. 96 journalists from the 3 regions participated (Lira 40, Gulu 31, Arua 25). We believe there will be a digital revolution in news dissemination in these areas. Also note that they were from different districts as follows; Agago, Dokolo, Amolatar, Nwoya, Gulu, Lira, Arua, Nebbi, Paidha, and Moyo

Media Focus On Africa partnered with @CIPESAUG via #ADRF fund

 

KENYA 2022 ELECTIONS: FINDING THE GENDER BALANCE

We are effectively into the election year. Kenya’s general election are due to be held in August 2022. In the last few weeks there’s been a heightening of political activities across the country. As with every electoral cycle, the issue of participation and representation of women will come into sharp focus. The constitution requires that not more than two thirds of the members of any elective body consist of one gender. 11 years after the constitution was passed, this threshold is far from being realized. Following the 2017 election, women made up 7.9% of elected MPs (from the 290 constituencies), 6.4% of Governors and Senators and 6.6% of elected MCAs. Regionally (East Africa) Kenya lags behind in the representation of women.

A variety of reasons account for the low representation of Kenyan women in political leadership. Top of the pile is the impact of age old social-cultural norms that define gender roles in our communities.  This has proved a major hindrance to women achieving political leadership. Political campaigns tend to be quite expensive. A study estimated the cost of running for an MP seat in 2017 to range between 20-35 million Kenya shillings. Due to socio-cultural norms that govern ownership and access to property and capital, women are greatly disadvantaged when it comes to raising resources for campaigning.

High media visibility of political candidates contributes to likelihood of success, but women candidates are less visible in the media. A 2019 global study commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, found that men remain the vast majority of quoted experts and sources in political news coverage and that the share of voice by men is 7 times that of women. The male dominance of political leadership spaces means that male candidates in competition with female candidates benefit from the unconscious bias of the voters i.e. voters unconsciously equate political leadership with men. The dominance also means that male candidates have abundance of role models to learn and get inspiration from. Female candidates competing with male candidates for the same seat and with similar qualifications and experience must work at least twice as hard to compete favorably.

As we head towards the August 2022 election, the need to increase the number of elected women representatives across the board has never been more apparent. In order for this to happen, female candidates for election require a lot of support. Strategic election planning training can make a significant contribution towards the success of female candidates in election. This refers to the capacity to approach electoral campaigning strategically. It involves analysis and use of data on demographics, past elections and voter trends to inform a candidate’s campaign plan. Strategic election planning allows a candidate to efficiently and effectively utilize limited resources and time during campaigns while greatly increasing the chances of success. Female candidates for election can also greatly benefit from increased visibility as a result of effective branding and messaging using digital/social media platforms. Digital/social media can be a useful alternative platform for visibility for female candidates during the campaigns. Proper branding on these platforms can also lead to getting noticed and profiled on traditional media which ultimately leads to getting known by more electorates. Learning from, inspiration and motivation by senior elected female colleagues can also add great value to female candidates running for election, particularly for those running for the first time.

With funding from the Canada High Commission’s Fund for Local Initiative, Media Focus on Africa (MFA) is embarking on a project to support 20 women aspirants for various elective seats from the counties of Narok, Nyandarua, West Pokot and Kajiado. The goal of the project is “Strengthening the democratic participation of women in Kenya”.   These 4 counties were chosen because they are among those counties in Kenya that have some of the least numbers of elected women throughout Kenya’s history. The support in form of training will expose the women to Strategic election planning and digital media skills for campaigning. In addition the women shall receive motivation and inspiration from elected female colleagues. The project will run for the next 4-6 months.

This project is in line with MFA‘s priority focus area of gender equality. Over the last 5 years, MFA has implemented a number of exciting and successful projects on gender equality including the recently aired popular TV series ‘Ms President’. Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is at the core of the government of Canada International Policy- the Feminist International Assistance Policy.

Image courtesy of UN.

WHY VIRAL SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT IS BAD FOR JOURNALISM

Opinion: Who these days doesn’t have guilty pleasures such as watching endless videos online when you are supposed to be sleeping or working?

My favourite are cat videos, babies, pets, and animals.  The creators of these videos have become the new e-entrepreneurs and social influencers.

To journalists, viral social media content continues to reshape the ways news is to be packaged.   The redefinition of what makes content engaging has put stress on news media to repackage items to fit a new type of consumption.

Journalism vs entertainment

The media has evolved at a speed that journalism is still working at catching up with. One of the conspicuous changes has been the exponential expansion for the production of online content. This has opened the playfield to an uncontrollable number of players. This content is directly competing with journalism.

While the expansion of platforms has created space for diversity, the playfield has been made grossly unlevelled. Journalism in some regions of the world has suffered a colossal slump as a result.

The cost of producing quality journalism remains considerable. Conversely, producing social media content is relatively cheaper and without the need for time-consuming gatekeeping or editorial quality checks.

Changing tastes for audiences

Social media transformed the way audiences consume content.   Online audiences developed traits such as impatience, constant use, consumption on the move, and the luxury of infinite choices.

These traits turned the audience into an insatiable beast that constantly nibbles bits of information.  In return content creators produce shorter and entertaining content.

The word ‘Viral’ was reborn.

It must be viral to show impact?

Numbers are the new definition of impact.  The drivers of impact have become quite obscure if journalism is to retain its depth and analytical values.  Viral content has proved to be driven by entertainment value, bizarre elements, scandalous nature, or emotional appeal.

It’s all about click baits.

Daily journalism may not match these standards.  It is not every good piece of journalism that will contain one or all of the qualities of viral content.

This makes the average reporter’s work remain flat amid bubbling social media viral posts that are dumbed down to attract numbers.   The ability of news and feature stories to engage is now being judged against entertainment on social media.

 

Additional costs for journalism

Facebook’s addition of sponsored content has made it further challenging for unpaid for news content to compete.

Legacy media may still boast of a large following on social media. This is largely inherited from their dominance in the pre-digital era.  Upcoming and alternative media still find it difficult to amass a following online without considerable budgets on social media advertising and branding.

Even for legacy media, social media has been an additional cost. There needs to be trained personnel, repackaging of long-form journalism to short form as well as necessary apps and software.

The cost of retraining journalists to write and produce for social media is considerable.  There has also been a shift in work culture, such as the need to use mobile phones for journalism.  All come at a cost.

Preserving long-form journalism in the digital space

The sacred space of journalism has always been under threat.  Media freedoms must be continually fought for.

While the digital space was hailed to provide a leeway for alternative voices which would have been an addition to press freedom and freedom of information and expression, the trend is changing fast.

Digital may soon be just like mainstream. Many good pieces of journalism get drowned in the sea of ‘viral’.   The ‘viral’ virus has infected journalism and a cure is needed.

All the funny videos online are good for audiences, people need comic relief. However, the truths and perspectives that journalism offers are the lifeblood of our democracy and freedoms.

 A new social influence audit

 Journalism has to redefine its social media influence.

An audit of followers, comments, and real-life impact may give fair indicators of how a story is performing.  The metrics for other social media content should not be used to judge journalistic engagement.

CONVALESCING NEWS MEDIA CREDIBILITY DURING COVID 19 TIMES

Analysis: “Coronavirus” and “COVID19” pandemic are now key words in most of our conversations. It is almost impossible to write a news story without finding how it links to the pandemic. Business news, politics, and sports all have to be hinged on the global health crisis.

Reporter’s scripts across the globe have been synchronised into numbers of infections, deaths, and recoveries. Governments have become a key source of news and in many instances the only source. Journalists have to rely on frequent press briefing from the political leadership and their appointed bureaucrats. In Kenya as many parts of the world, the frequency of news bulletins increased as per the need of governments to release new information to the public. Social media became awash with misleading information and soon lost its glimmer as the alternative or the channel of dissent.

The complexity and uniqueness of the pandemic did not only present global health systems with shock but journalism alike was thrust into an unorthodox space for storytelling. The strict rules of lockdowns, curfews, social distancing, and disruption of public transportation isolated news sources from the reach of journalists. Frontline medical workers, convalescents, and quarantined people could have been alternative and additional sources. However, the public health guidelines in place delayed a reach to these sources and some instances cut them out completely from being part of the story.

At the same time, many newsrooms adopted working from home while only skeleton staff went to work physically. The demand for information on COVID- 19 meant little time to do in-depth journalism. Scientific knowledge of the virus has not been within quick access due to the novel nature of the disease. This further thinned out sources of information for journalists.

Government departments seemed to the last source standing. While this gave a sense of authority to the information released to the media, dissenting voices became a target. Individuals who raised contradicting views were easily branded as fake news mongers and at times met with a harsh response.

The most recent survey from Infotrack, a Kenyan research firm, revealed that news media trust came second to the government while social media dropped to the bottom with only 35% of respondents crediting the platforms’ trustworthiness.

Journalism has endured a tough terrain with eroding trust and blame for overfeeding audiences with bad news. Many may argue on the point of what makes news. Universally, bad news is news. A section of audiences got fatigued with the bleak news of the virus. News media became a victim of backlash for a population suffering from fear and anxiety over the unbearable impact the pandemic has on their lives. It is fair that at a time like this, the masses need relief from bad news, but journalism doesn’t have to be tasked with the search for solace. At the core of the craft is to hold power to account to alert audiences of any deviations from the course of the public good. Naturally, this is packaged as bad news.

Timely and truthful information from the news media is vital for triggering change. In countries where the media operates freely, journalism is often hailed for provoking change in public matters of governance and accountability. The Coronavirus continues to present our world with unrivalled obstacles. The social and economic lives of entire countries and individual citizens have been thrust into deep uncertainty. The media and journalism industry will not grope its way of out the challenge but has to take off the blindfold and fearlessly reclaim its trust and duty to the audiences.

By Frenny Jowi, Project Officer at Media Focus on Africa

KENYA MEDIA WEEK 2019

The 2019 Kenya Media Week was a follow up to the very successful 2018 Kenya Media Week. It was launched at a one-day conference in August 2019 and was subsequently held over three days in November 2019. MFA organized the conference to explore key issues facing journalism in the digital space in  Kenya today. Just like in 2018, the conference harnessed insights from academic research, the experience of journalists as well as the bold voices of audiences and citizen journalists who use digital platforms to shape Kenya’s journalism. It was designed to enable reflection and discussion around contemporary journalism. Through master classes, panel discussions, and presentations, the participants talked to one another, tried various technologies, tested new skills, and tabled ideas.

The financial survival of the journalism profession – disrupted in large part by digital technologies’ influence on practices and audience behavior – remained an important topic during the conference with the first presentation focused on non-profit journalism alternatives in the digital age. This launched a panel discussion that led to a heated debate about who should be considered a journalist.

The heat generated between self-taught and university-trained practitioners illuminated how journalism stands at the intersection of change and further, what times of transition do: they destabilise established names, definitions, skills, and practices, and present new opportunities and ethical challenges.

A detailed publication of the event and all that was discussed can be found on this website at the Resources section. Read and download here. 

CALL FOR REFLECTIVE ESSAYS

In this second edition of Kenya Media Week, we are seeking Kenyan innovative ideas for the Kenyan digital media space. The theme for the 2019 Kenya Media Week is: Expanding Digital Spaces for Journalism. 

The main question is whether non-profit digital news platforms are the alternative for in depth, authoritative, and investigative coverage of matters of great public interest in Kenya? 

Our call for Reflective Essays is an opportunity for journalists, researchers, academics and other professionals with experience and interest in journalism to explore: the emerging innovations, professional identities and ideologies on the digital space for journalism.

Your essay can focus on one of the three areas namely:

–          Digital innovations for journalism

–          Emerging professions in digital media and

–          Ideologies propagated in the digital space 

The essay format

A reflective essay is an analytical piece based on the experience(s) of the writer or of other people observed by the writer. The piece should have illustrations, but it should move beyond examples/anecdotes of experiences to also include perspective and context. The latter include a sense of what those experiences mean in relation to the subject being written about by using facts and opinions from other credible sources.

The Essay should aim to give:

– Illustration (through personal/other examples);

– Context (the political/economic/social climate in which the issue is taking place;

– Perspective (what the experiences given and the issue under discussion mean to the writer).

Each reflective piece should be between 2,500- 3,000 words long, and can be written with the format of introduction, body, and conclusion. The piece may be written in first-person or otherwise, but should not be too informal in tone and style as it will end up as a written record of the issue under discussion. Accepted reflective papers will be presented during the Kenya Media Week 2019, with presenters focusing on the context and perspective in their presentations. 

In each category every winner will receive a token of appreciation 

These essays will be presented during the Kenya Media Week to be held on November 2019

Essays to be sent to: kenyamediaweek@gmail.com

Submission deadline: September 23th 2019

WELCOME TO KENYA MEDIA WEEK 2019

NEW VOICES, EXPANDING SPACES, FUNDING POSSIBILITIES

#MEDIAMATTERSKE  #KENYAMEDIAWEEK2019

Welcome to the second edition of the Kenya Media Week.

Media Focus on Africa, Mobile Journalism Africa and the National Endowment for Democracy are delighted to bring to you this years’ edition of the Kenya Media Week conference. We continue to explore current and emerging trends in digital innovations for journalism. The conference is keen to hear from new voices in journalism. Our intention is to foster collaborations that could promote public interest journalism through digital platforms.

THE CHALLENGE

We are seeking solutions to improving and promoting public interest journalism and especially investigative journalism.The main question is: whether non-profit digital news platforms are the alternative for in depth, authoritative, and investigative coverage of matters of great public interest in Kenya?

THEMATIC AREAS

During the three days, our conversations will explore the following:

– Day 1: Digital innovations for journalism

– Day 2: Emerging professions in digital media and

– Day 3: Ideologies propagated in the digital space

ENGAGE

This conference is a safe space for journalists and media practitioners to debate and critique current models for the media in order to innovate for the future of journalism.This conference has a robust social media coverage plan. Join us on #MediaMattersKE  #KenyaMediaWeek2019. Follow us on Twitter @Media_Focus and on Facebook @MediaFocusonAfrica. Let’s Tweet our way to a free press!

CONNECT

We are coming to the end of the year, a perfect time to meet your colleagues in the media, make new contacts and get ground breaking ideas to implement next year.Learn. Get inspired. Go out and make a difference in your media organization. Join us from November 20th to 22nd.We hope you will enjoy the experience. Let’s work together in supporting journalism and a free press!

UGANDA MEDIA WEEK 2019

Media Focus on Africa (MFA), with support from Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, held a breakfast session of the Pre-Media Week Dialogues under the theme ‘Creating Mechanisms towards Self Regulation,’ which took place at Golden Tulip, Kampala. The media dialogue that was held in partnership with the Uganda Editors’ Guild, one of a series building up to Uganda Media Week that will take place later in the year.

ONE MINUTE PROJECT -WESTNILE

The One-minute aimed at empowering youths in refugee settlements as well as their counterparts in the host communities  with skills and knowledge in film production, media and communication.  The skills will  prepare refugee youths and  youths in host communities to be able to tell their own stories and stand out  beyond the narratives that are often presented in the media.

To enable this move, the youths were given resources to help with their learning and also produce their own films. These included Ipads configured with video editing software. With these, the youths can record and edit video and audio footage. These Ipads, among other resources, will be left available to the youths even after the project is over, such that they can carry on producing films to express themselves and tell their stories to the world.

Project One-minute is funded by Creative-Force-Swedish Institute, a Swedish agency engaging other countries in information, culture, public life among others, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency working on behalf of the Swedish parliament and government to reduce poverty in the world. Project One-minute is facilitated by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

KENYA MEDIA WEEK 2018

Kenya Media Week 2018 was a Grand Three Day Event that included presentations, panel discussions and exploration of media opportunities with Kenya’s leading journalists, researchers and key media stakeholders. They shared their insights and reflections on the future of Kenya’s journalism and media trends.

The first of its kind media gathering brought together great minds from the world of academia and media. Some of the speakers included Patrick Gathara, a renowned Kenyan journalist, cartoonist,  blogger, and author, Swaleh Mdoe, ranked as one of the best Kiswahili news anchors in Kenya, Dr. Wambui Wamunyu, head of Media studies at Daystar University, Patience Nyange, Senior Human Rights Officer, Kenya Human Rights Commission, Jessica Musila, Executive Director, Mzalendo, Johnson Mwakazi, Founder, The Royal Voice, Terry Anne Chebet, CEO, Fanaka TV, Luke Kizito,  Founder Signs Media, Marren Anot, Business Manager, Standard Media  Group , Njeri Kirieni,  Media and Research Consultant, Kenya Audience Research Foundation, Shitemi Khamadi, Bloggers Association of Kenya, Catherine Gicheru, Country manager, Code for Kenya, Christine Nguku – Kenya Editors Guild among others.

This national media conference sought innovative solutions to emerging challenges facing journalism in combating fake news, sustainable funding models for and addressing democracy. It took place on the 12th of September 2018 to 14th September 2018 at the Kenya Cultural Centre, Nairobi.

The discussions were extended online and were happening under the hashtag #MediaMattersKE and #KenyaMediaWeek. The hashtags trended in Kenya on twitter for the 3 days.

A detailed publication of the event and all that was discussed can be downloaded from this website at the Resources section. Read and download here. 

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Updates from Uganda & Kenya

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Twitter Kenya

#MsPresident Season 2 winner @AngelMbuthia together with our Country Director @mangandomo paid a courtesy call to @unwomenkenya Country Representative @annamutavati and shared her plans to advance women's empowerment in the Kenya.

@EUinKenya @CanHCKenya

#SheCanLead https://t.co/pUpVJBBTlS
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Women are making their voices heard and breaking through the traditional barriers that have kept them out of the political arena. What role has #MsPresident played in this? Click the link below
https://t.co/dvXlXnakMt https://t.co/w3HG1Hm2SK
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#WCW

Today we celebrate all the amazing women who participated in the second season of Ms President. These women showed immense courage and heart, and we're so grateful for their contributions. Thank you, ladies!

#MsPresident https://t.co/ZiCt11kHJY
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May this new year bring you good health, wealth, and happiness.

#happyNewYear2023 https://t.co/dAmIfNAf3y
We at Media Focus on Africa Wish you and your loved ones a joyous Christmas season filled with hope, positivity, joy, and love.

Please note that our office will remain closed until 9th January.

#happyholidays2022 https://t.co/XFagcGorDq
There is a great deal of research that suggests that when women are better represented politically, the prevalence of GBV (gender-based violence) decreases.
https://t.co/MZzq41apHr

#16DaysofActivism2022 https://t.co/P4Lthg595Z
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Twitter Uganda

What are you doing about gender inclusivity in your Newsroom?

👉 @JoeWacha from @EtoilAKaramoja tells us...
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#SheCan
#MediaMattersUG
#Equality https://t.co/g4DyQravat
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How do we contextualize the loss and damage fund at the #COP27 for the #Ugandan audience? There’s need for a united front in creating awareness to trigger individual based #climateaction. - Jan Ajwang - @MFAUganda https://t.co/iKEkExI4rA MFAUganda photo