Media lay-offs have lately become the norm in the Kenyan mainstream media, all in the name of shifting to digital. This is a good step in the right direction for business and also to align the hierarchy that is a mess in most newsrooms.
On the other hand however, bread winners are being sent home and all they have known all their life is sit behind a desktop 8-5 or 9-9 depending on your contract, answer to white haired bosses who have no idea what’s trending on twitter and routinely do it day in day out. Boring yes?
When journalism is supposed to be dynamic and hi-tech, the mainstream has tried its best to fight the migration, a battle it has lost hence the massive lay-offs.
The Kenya Union of Journalists has filed a case against Nation Media Group for warning that it will lay off some of its staff this January. The Employment and Labour relations has ordered the Nation Media Group to file a response within four days indicating reason for its lay off.
So, suddenly the Kenya Union of Journalists and The Employment and Labour relations want to defend journalists and fight for their rights instead of facilitating independence for these same media practitioners. Infact a good number of these people did not sit in a journalism class, they hold passes because they are under a certain media house. Some of these editors hold diplomas in fields not even close to journalism. story for another day, but my point is that the union is fighting the wrong fight and probably for the wrong people..
In a day a lion’s share of advertising monies do not go to print media and television, thanks to the range of advertising platforms in the digital era the media houses are not in a position to sustain employees like they did a decade ago.
This wave is not Kenyan, media houses are downsizing across the world. According to “Reuters Journalism, media and technology trends and predictions 2017” the media is moving exponentially online where we should now expect publishers to force more people to register for websites and apps as well as investing heavily in data to help deliver more personalized content and messaging.
We’ll see further job cuts and losses across the news industry. More papers will go out of business, slim down or become online-only
Also, we should expect widespread innovation with messaging apps, chat bots and the art of ‘conversational journalism’. More of us will be talking to computers via voice driven personal assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant.
2017 Will also be a big year for audio/podcasts as Facebook rolls out social and live audio formats.There will also be an explosion of mobile alerts for news, as the battle for the lockscreen heats up. The mainstream media will also be required to align itself to the new era and make social media a big part of news dissemination.
That said, Journalists should seize the many opportunities the digital migration presents to us and stop whining about losing a job that is taking away their potential each day by accustoming them to routine.