Blogging and social media have affected and completely redefined Journalism, Media and how we consume news and information. The effect and whether good or bad is still something the pundits, law makers and governments globally are yet to agree on.
In Kenya, blogging has come to be associated with Hate Speech. This is despite the fact that, those ‘bloggers’ who have been taken to court and rarely charged turned out to be some Kenyans posting inflammatory posts either on Facebook or Twitter. That has not stopped the mainstream (traditional) media from branding every blogger as bad, crying that the whole fraternity is in dire need of regulation because they should not enjoy all the benefits of ‘Real Journalists’ and none of the responsibilities. The rise of blogging and Social media in Kenya is happening at mind boggling pace which has made for interesting studies since our infrastructure is still poor in most parts of the country and internet costs are still extremely high in comparison to other African countries.
Against all odds, there is a growing number of Kenyans who are spending a good amount of time online either on whatsapp, FB, twitter or reading blogs. Through the years, there has also been a huge decline in the number of people buying or reading the local daily newspapers. There is a common joke (thanks to our President) that Newspapers nowadays are just for wrapping meat. The recent launch of Nairobi News by the Nation Media Group and its shut down less than a year later as well as the reduced circulation for many of the other daily papers from various media houses is to some extent due to the shifting readership.
There has been an interesting phenomenon in the Kenyan blogging space. Journalists from Kenyan media houses are now taking to blogs in a bid to salvage their columns and increase their readership with the hope that the online readers will follow them from their blogs to their newspaper columns. This is quite acceptable as a writer is a writer regardless of the platform they use. However, what is of concern is the nature of articles being posted by these journalists. The other interesting point to note is that, the very same journalists are losing their Journalism code of ethics, and what differentiates bloggers from them by writing sensational articles purely meant to get Kenyans Online reacting and forwarding the article links to their friends. The pure dis-regard for research based, well informed articles attacking married women and lately, people from certain communities and their cuisines is not only a betrayal of their role as journalism, it is a reflection that these journalists and the media houses they work for condone this and no longer care for objective and responsible reporting.
To them, its all about the hits.
Maybe its now time for Kenyan Bloggers to call for the recall of accreditation to certain Journalists for they no longer deserve to be referred to as such.