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Digital media key to Africa’s growth story

Monday December 09 2019
kuspic

Nation Media Group Editorial Director Mutuma Mathiu leads the discussion on the place of media in Africa's transformation, during the Kusi Ideas Festival at Intare Conference Arena in Kigali, Rwanda, on December 9, 2019. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ALLAN OLINGO

Mainstream media have been urged to invest in new digital platforms as young people shape the future of the industry.

Speaking at the Kusi Ideas Festival in Kigali, Rwanda, on Monday, Nation Media Group Editorial Director Mutuma Mathiu said the landscape has changed, with more of computer generated reporting.

“The future for journalism is exciting. The use of specific devices to receive news is in its last stages. People will receive news from their fridges and all manner of gadgets,” Mr Mathiu said.

“Journalism as an organised activity in truth-seeking, fact-checking and storytelling is becoming better because of converged technology.”

He lauded the role of social media in mobilising people.

FAKE NEWS

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Mr Mathiu, however, warned of the platform being a double-edged sword, with its undoing being the mouthpiece for fake news.

“We have seen social media being weaponised to rig elections and spread misinformation. People now prefer to pay for credible news,” Mr Mathiu said

“Whatever form the media takes in the next 60 years, I hope we will continue to talk the truth and hold leaders to account.”

Mr Monari Moshoeshe, the Deputy Managing Director at Times Media, said the one dimensional communication would no longer make sense in the coming 60 years.

“The time is up for mainstream media as the sole agenda setter. The power will be returned to the people. People will express themselves in terms of democracy,” Mr Moshoehse said.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Ms Jeanine Munyeshuli said the landscape had shifted, allowing social media to have a larger say in democracy matters.

“Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay and to participate in democracy,” she said, adding that governments “can no longer hide the things we like under the carpet”.

Ipsos Kenya Managing Director Aggrey Oriwo said media are headed for a personalised consumption stage, a situation the mainstream players should be alive to.

“There is more connectivity and individual choice. In the next 60 years, we shall only be speaking to these people in a language they understand,” Mr Oriwo said.

DEMOCRACY

Ms Fatuma Karume, senior partner at IMMMA Advocates, said democracy could not have spread as fast as it did worldwide without the traditional printing press.

“However, there is something even more powerful — social media. It is the people deciding their conversation and how they want to have it,” Ms Karume said.

“The impact of social media on our democracy is incredible. Even someone who is under 18 can express an opinion. You can tag the president, prime minister and the conversation starts.”

She said governments ought to realise that “guns can no longer stop people from expressing their views”.

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