Where have news audiences gone to?

Gone are the days we waited for the newspaper guy to deliver or sell you the morning issue or the times where you had to tune in to your favorite radio station to get the latest news or know what was going on in the country.

The digital media revolution has taken center stage in today’s media scene and it is turning the media world upside down. These current changes are like watching a technology driven tornado sweep through the industry changing and reshaping the narrative of the media institution.

We grew up accustomed to 7 and 9 pm strictly being sacred times to watch the evening bulletins and know what’s going on around in Kenya when our dads had the remotes right before they’d hand over the remotes to our moms for the 8pm soap operas.

Currently, with the different platforms across the internet you can get to know what happens around the country even before the bulletin goes on air, from Twitter posts to the digital native news platforms to the media companies social media channels.

However, these innovative and exciting new ways to stay informed pose the question, What’s the future of legacy journalism amidst the ever-growing migration away from it?

Legacy media in the Kenyan journalism sector has been around since the days of typewriters and transistor radios. These traditional newspapers, radio stations, and TV channels have been the OGs of news, delivering information to Kenyans like nobody’s business.

With their experienced journalists, top-notch editorial processes, and a myriad of correspondents, they’ve earned a reputation for being trustworthy and thorough.

 Throughout their time, they have exposed scandals, held the mighty accountable for their misdeeds and given us the news we needed to know.

But in this age of smartphones, technological advancements and widespread internet connectivity, legacy media has had to roll up its sleeves and face some serious competition. It’s been like trying to sell cassette tapes in the era of Spotify.

The struggle is real, Newspapers are wondering where all their readers went, radio stations are getting the “bombastic side eye” by online streaming and podcasts, and TV channels are like, “Who needs cable when you’ve got YouTube?”

These traditional media outlets have had to figure out ways to embrace the digital age and the online world. Some outlets have opened digital platforms, others are making good use of their social media channels and others are making e-newspapers.

Nevertheless, these traditional media outlets still have a dedicated audience, and they’re not going down without a fight.

In a recently published survey by the Media Innovation Centre in collaboration with Aga Khan University and Infotrack, the key summary findings acknowledged that despite the digital media revolution the traditional modes of media still have a commendable market share among the Gen Z’s and Millennials who were the subjects of the survey which had 1201 respondents.

A whopping 76 percent of the millennials and Gen Z’s indicate that they rely on TV stations for general information. TV is followed by social media (74 percent) and radio stations (55 percent)  Newspapers (19 percent), websites of the news’ media organizations (18percent and digital native media houses are not popularly relied on by the millennials and Gen Zs though the findings indicate that they are relied on by a fairly significant number.

Read also: The future of journalism

Most young Kenyans consume news to gain awareness of current issues/affairs (52 percent), to be knowledgeable (46 percent)and to attain their personal goals in life (39 percent). A significant number of millennials and Gen Zs look for entertainment in the news they consume. About 25 percent are motivated to consume news to escape from the limits of societal expectations and stereotypes.

The respondents also gave responses as to what contents they’d like legacy media to show more. The responses seemed to suggest that legacy media houses need to make their news more useful to the younger demographic by not only informing them, but also empowering them, addressing issues of employment, business related topics, lifestyle and entertainment in a fashion that has both progress and enjoyment.

The millennials and Gen Zs further noted that the platforms should not focus too much on political content which is a particular trait associated with the group which has little tolerance for politics.

Over the past decade, Kenya has experienced a rapid expansion of digital infrastructure, resulting in increased internet penetration and smartphone adoption. As a result, the Kenyan masses have flocked to digital media platforms, seeking the immediacy, convenience, and diversity they offer. This shift has disrupted the dominance of legacy media channels, forcing them to adapt or risk becoming irrelevant. Some of these platforms where the people are migrating to include:

Online news on websites and mobile applications to cater to the changing preferences of their audience. Online news platforms provide real-time updates, interactive features, multimedia content, and personalized experiences, engaging readers in ways never seen before.

Social Media platforms are gaining an allure that cannot be ignored in this new media landscape. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp have become the equivalent of virtual town squares where Kenyans gather to exchange information, share opinions, and consume news.

Streaming services too are notable with many legacy media companies going live on their YouTube channels simultaneously. In Kenya, the demand for entertainment has been on the rise with the emergence of streaming services. Platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Showmax have become go-to destinations for entertainment.

YouTube and  Digital Influencers.YouTube’s rise has revolutionized how Kenyans consume content. The platform hosts a vibrant community of content creators who cater to a wide range of interests. From vlogs to music videos, educational content to comedy, Kenyan YouTubers have captivated audiences, providing an alternative to mainstream media. This opens doors for independent journalism and citizen reporting, challenging the traditional news establishment.

Podcasting, Podcasts have been gaining traction in Kenya. They offer a unique platform for in-depth conversations, investigative journalism, and storytelling. Podcasts provide an intimate listening experience, allowing audiences to engage with content on the go with the Kenyan podcasters tapping into diverse niches, attracting loyal listeners and cultivating a dedicated community.

The future of Kenyan traditional journalism lies in embracing the digital media revolution. Legacy media channels must adapt and evolve overtime so as to remain relevant. Harnessing the power of online news platforms, social media, streaming services, YouTube, podcasts, and other emerging platforms.

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