Ideas & Debate

Ethics and innovation are key to restoring trust in the media


Journalists at a press conference in Nairobi. PICTURES | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG

David

Summary

  • Today, media performance is influenced by several factors, including technology, media convergence, and socio-economic and political dynamics.
  • The digital shift has changed media consumption habits and, through greater interactivity, provides audiences with much more control and wider choices for interacting with content.
  • It is true that a majority of citizens not only rely on radio, television and newspapers for information and opinions, but also see the Internet as an increasingly important source.

Media consumption has changed dramatically over the past two years globally, pushing media to constantly innovate to stay afloat.

Today, media performance is influenced by several factors, including technology, media convergence, and socio-economic and political dynamics. The Covid-19 pandemic has made a bad situation worse.

The digital shift has changed media consumption habits and, through greater interactivity, provides audiences with much more control and wider choices for interacting with content.

But while the growth of the Internet has opened up more platforms for the dissemination of different viewpoints, the fact is that mainstream media brands and services still dominate consumption patterns.

It is true that a majority of citizens not only rely on radio, television and newspapers for information and opinions, but also see the Internet as an increasingly important source.

Findings from a media performance survey conducted by the Media Council of Kenya in 2021 confirmed some of these global trends. The survey aimed to establish the number of Kenyans using broadcast and print media and indicators on the use of internet, digital and social media.

It also aimed to assess the level of trust in the media and determine the main sources of information for Kenyans. This survey will also guide the council’s programmatic interventions in promoting professionalism in the media.

Kenya has a vibrant media environment, hosting over 130 TV channels, 200 radio stations, 100 print publications and 200 online media platforms. According to the survey, it should be noted that audiovisual media have remained in the lead, with radio leading television over the past two years.

The survey shows notable stability in print and broadcast audiences, where radio content is consumed by 74% of Kenyans on a typical day, translating to approximately 21 million Kenyans consuming radio. radio content. This proportion is similar to that recorded in the 2020 survey.

Additionally, respondents surveyed who consume print media translated to over seven million Kenyans who can access newspaper content, a similar proportion to the proportion recorded in the 2020 survey.

Pint media continued to be the lowest despite being one of the oldest modes of communication. This requires innovation and the development of customer-centric and market-driven products that will ensure wide readership as well as media sustainability.

What this says about different audiences is that a more professional approach to media is essential to ensure media viability and sustainability. A professional media that adheres to journalistic ethics coupled with innovation will always be assured of its audience.

Two years ago, 48% of Kenyans exuded “great confidence” in the media. This figure fell to 35% in 2020 and is decreasing day by day.

The 2021 survey showed that only 23% of Kenyans have “a great deal of trust” in the media, a drop of 25%. This is a worrying trend as the media is tasked by the public to provide accurate information in all areas.

Media audiences can be complicated, especially with the advent of social media, which has come with demands for disinformation and amplification of gossip previously confined to the grapevine columns of local newspapers.

Our media should innovate in approaches that will help build public trust in the media. The media must uphold ethical journalism and put the interests of consumers first.

Media concerns remain unchanged from previous surveys. Some of the issues mentioned include poor frequencies, limited coverage of issues affecting rural areas and what respondents felt was biased coverage, particularly of a political nature.

Another group felt that some ads were misleading while some broadcast content encouraged vices like gambling and arson in schools. Then, others felt that some content was inappropriate for watershed periods.

This requires better adherence to journalistic ethics and programming codes that guide media operations in Kenya.