The Internet revolution is hitting Kenya and can’t be ignored, particularly by the media industry. According to Alexa.com, the top visited sites in Kenya are Facebook, Yahoo and Google.
I have a profile on Facebook, as do 3,600 of my Kenyan Facebook friends.
Only a few years ago, Kenyans used the Internet sparingly, and when they did, it was just for email. The cost of bandwidth has been declining and now most offices have a reliable Internet connection.
Soon we will have fibre optic cables which should lower the cost of internet access even further and provide a more stable connection than is currently offered with our satellite access. As a result, Kenyans are expected to spend more time online, streaming music, researching, reading news, chatting, blogging or watching videos.
As a player in media industry (Capital FM and CBC TV), I am very keen on the impact of the Internet on traditional media i.e radio, TV, and print. For now, I’ll focus on the latter.
Print media in my opinion is facing a serious threat from online media. Readers in Kenya and globally are migrating from reading newspapers to online versions.
The New York Times, one of the largest selling newspapers in the US now reports that the number of people who read their paper online surpasses the number who read the print edition. As a result, advertising revenue on their print version has declined significantly, while online advertising is increasing steadily.
Print media includes newspapers, magazines, newsletters and other publications. These publications thrive on the ability to sell advertising space while growing subscriptions.
Without an audience, they are dead. If we look at postal directories (yellow pages), more often than not they become obsolete a short time after they are published because they cannot be updated real time. If a directory entry changes, then the information in the published version is inaccurate. The best option is to have an online version that can be updated as information changes.
Similarly, news breaks and changes constantly. The newspaper you read in the morning is history because it was printed 12 hours prior to you receiving it. With online media, information is refreshed and breaking news does not have to wait for the printing press to run at midnight.
Online media is becoming popular because media houses move from just broadcasting, to communicating. The “old” way was to have institutional control on content, while the new media advocates for consumer control on content (citizen journalism, blogs, commentaries, etc). The old way focused on individual consumption, while new media focuses on social consumption (wikis, podcasts, forums).
Looking at the trends in developed countries concerning the uptake of online media, it is only prudent that traditional media in Kenya adapts to survive. Print media circulation will continue to decline as internet access spreads. Kenyans will not only be able to have connectivity from their computers at work, or in the cybers, but also through their mobile phones. With this in mind, even the ICT Board has embarked on a project to encourage the generation of local content other than news through their “Tandaa Program”.
My take on print media publishers, adapt or get out of the race, you are slowing down the rest of us! What are your thoughts?
PS – Always remember to log onto news.capitalfm.co.ke for real-time news updates.