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Social Media uptake by Kenyan Journalists

Social Media uptake by Kenyan Journalists

If there is one tweet that made my day this year, it is the one by Jeff Koinange where he tweeted that “This Titter Stuff is DaBomb.”

During an interview with one of my favourite Kenyans, Mutahi Ngunyi, I wondered why Jeff did not have a twitter account yet he is one of the most popular if not the most popular TV personalities in Kenya today. That he runs the most popular talk show in the country which is a frequent subject of discourse on Twitter was all the more reason for him to be on Twitter. I even thought of either a @capitaltalk username or #capitaltalk hashtag just to get the conversations going on Twitter. And not only that, his persona is the kind that I thought would so easily take to Twitter. Then a day or so later, I saw one of the Kenyans I follow send a tweet to @Koinangejeff and I was sure to follow and check whether this was a genuine account. And sure it was. I followed immediately and in the next capital talk show, I was even more pleasantly surprised to see Jeff’s Twitter handle on the screen as he interviewed someone.

Though he is not the first Kenyan Media Personality to have a presence on Twitter, he is certainly one of the more exciting ones and one who has really taken to it given his level of engagement after only a short while on the platform. From KTN to NTV, it is now becoming a commonplace occurrence to not only ask people to like them on their Facebook Pages and follow them on Twitter but it has now moved from mere looking for Fans to requests for engagement. Many more Radio stations have a presence on Facebook and Twitter as well as YouTube in an effort to build their communities online. Building an online community is becoming an essential aspect of mainstream media as part an outlet for them.

In the past few months, I have with growing interest monitored the influx of mainstream media and media personalities especially into Twitter. There was a time when the only media personalities were @larrymadowo, @lwalubengo, @terryannechebet, @olivermathenge and @jbonyo but that now seems like eons ago. Almost every media personality today is on these social networks establishing their personal spheres of influence while also acting as advocates for their employers. I am not sure whether they look at their presence in these social networks as platforms to establish themselves as authorities (a tag that would stick to them regardless of employer) or whether it is just a popularity measure whose influence is measured by numbers as opposed to substance. May you can elaborate the motivations behind your having a social presence in the comments section below.

News doesn’t break, it tweets. That is the reality today. And we are the better for it, and I believe media personalities are the better for it as well. For most Kenyans online, we today get our news on the go from tweets from the reporters on the ground. We do not have to wait till evening for breaking news or until the next day for the papers. The advent of citizen journalism has also meant that reporters now also get their news from their twitter timelines because news today breaks both ways. And beyond just reporting, we are also seeing discourse emerging over these channels and going forward, I believe that every Media Outlet in the country will train its journalists to not write their articles and opinion articles just for consumption by other but to monitor the conversations that emanate from them and respond accordingly.

In the leading news networks, news anchors, reporters, field journalists go to great lengths to cultivate a great following. They actively ask people to engage with them on their various platforms and carry the conversations forward in the threads of their blogs, Facebook pages, and on Twitter because there is only so much they can say while reading the news. I believe that we will be seeing more and more of that here as well.

I am happy to see many Kenyan Executives joining Twitter as well.

What say you?