Engaging in a friendly conversation with your friend, a colleague at work, a relative or any other person is considered as a favourite activity to pass time, catch up or discuss a serious thing. This conversation, as friendly as it might be, sometimes is ruined by people who twist the truth. Those who tell lies. A person who tells a lie has to tell another to cover the first one. If you listen to lies for a long time, you tend to take them as the truth. These lies often become myths that end up altering people’s perception.
The Kenyan media has been criticized for a long time for reasons such as being inclined to reporting tragedy-filled stories, ignoring what the society considers moral, headlining all the politics and sometimes not let the entrepreneurial stories take the headlines. These issues, some are not true, have made many people to see the media in a bad light. To debunk the myths that have been adopted as truths, Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) in conjunction with the editorial team at Nation Media Group (NMG) last week held a panel discussion that saw bloggers and other members of the public get enlightened on the process stories go through before editors publish them. It was a learning opportunity and here are some of the issues that stood out for me.
Print media is king
The fast pace with which technology is growing casts a dark shadow of doubt on the success of the print media in years to come. We are in an era where if something happens in the country, news is circulated online and within a short while, most people are aware of the happening. Social media platforms have made it possible to communicate news to an extent that some people consider it pointless to get the printed version of the news. However, this does not mean the death of print media is here. There are people who will never be contented with the news trending online until they can land their hands on paperbacks. Corporate bodies have yet to fully adopt digital advertising as the sole advertising platform.
Storytelling is an art that will never die
There is concern that a bulk of what makes up content for the media is news and not necessarily stories that touch on people’s well being. Stories that teach values to the society. Technological advancement has seen people moving from the traditional story telling methods of sitting around fire and listening to stories as told by the grandparents. Ng’ang’a Mbugua addressed the issue of storytelling by saying what has changed is the medium of communication, but people still tell stories. There are columns done in the dailies that touch on the human stories.
A space on the newspaper has to be earned
There is a lot that goes into publishing a copy of a newspaper. Part of that is great content. Members of the public who dig into their pockets to purchase a copy expect top notch content as they flip and read through the pages. This is where a great writer comes in. Prior to getting into any contractual agreement with NMG that you will create content for them, you have to be vetted, your work has to be weighed against other writers’ to sieve through and ensure no mediocre content sees the light of the day. Simply put, you have to be the best among the best. This goes beyond the writing sphere. In any area you are in, you have to be the best to be noticed.
A certain column on the Saturday Nation does not sit well with a majority of readers but still, they buy the copy in large numbers. A controversial topic receives more attention than an obvious one would. Publishing these articles on controversial topics is a risk on Saturday Nation in the sense that the public may view NMG is an irresponsible corporate citizen but still, a risk they want to take for the simple fact that controversy pushes up the ratings of the group.
Caring for the environment
It is basic knowledge that to get papers to print about one hundred and fifty thousand copies of newspapers, a bunch of trees have to be cut down. This in turn contributes to the hurting the environment which affects the water catchment areas. NMG has resulted to importing paper and making use of recycled paper to print content on. This portrays the group as a responsible citizen.