Kenyan media warned of hard times ahead

May 2, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 2 – Practitioners in the media industry are being warned to brace themselves for harder and more challenging times ahead.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication Dr Bitange Ndemo said on Saturday that globalisation and the ever changing face of technology will pose the biggest challenge to the profession in the coming future.

 Speaking at a media workshop ahead of World Press Freedom day, Dr Ndemo pointed out with the advent of new media comes the challenge of non-regulation that allows people to broadcast instantaneously and from wherever they are.

“What is happening in the West is that companies are being formed everyday to aggregate the news, analyze it and aggregate it because of this issue of non regulation,” Dr Ndemo said.

 He said that due to the loss of regulation and control as a result of the development of these new technologies there was need for such companies to be formed to give the true picture by carrying out investigations and synthesise the news.

“I have not seen such companies here, it’s only in South Africa where have seen such news aggregators, that’s a new terminology that is coming your way.  What they do is look through the net to see all kinds of the news and compare with what is from the local area and create the real news.”
Dr Ndemo urged the media to be more innovative and enterprising to ensure fewer redundancies as a result of these challenges.

He advised the media to develop more local content and training models based on African tradition to remain relevant on the global platform.

Speaking at the forum, the chairperson of the Media Council of Kenya Esther Kamweru said issues of new media, regulation, training, and infiltration of the profession by non-trained journalists were the issues of concern for the local media.

She said the media was yet to be able to handle the issue of various talents plying the trade of journalism without basic training.

“We have received a lot of complaints from the professional journalists who are raising concern about the issue and is something we are trying to look at as a council to better address it,” Ms Kamweru said.

She observed that the increasing number of new vernacular stations was not making the council’s work any easier in its bid to address modern day challenges.

“I think we all see the value of vernacular stations in that they give very good development advice but we also see a challenge where it has been argued that the stations are perpetrating hate speech,” she said.

The media practitioner further pointed out that it was becoming harder day by day to regulate media content because of the constant development of new media which allows instantaneous broadcast without any control.

Ms Kamweru said the Media Council supported regulation of the industry but not control.

Meanwhile the former chairman of the Media Owners Association Hanningtone Gaya has said most of the contentious issues in the Kenya Communication Act of 2008 between the industry and the government have been resolved. 

“The only area that is of major contention is to repeal section 88 of the previous Act.  On that we have been promised that the AG will make sure it is in the miscellaneous amendment Bill which will be tabled in Parliament in this session,” Mr Gaya said.

He said that other areas of contention in the Act are up to speed and there no major disagreements over them.


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