BY WENDY KAHASO FOR WWW.EDAILY.CO.KE.
The media industry, which is undergoing an unpredictable and accelerated transition, is “no longer the “glossy” and fame-making empire that it was years ago.
Sadly, many communications students do not want to accept this harsh but inevitable state of affairs.
And when asked why they want to join the media industry, many of them wouldn’t cite “a need to change lives, quality of leadership and improve the general welfare of the people they are communicating to”.
They would rather say: “I want to be famous, I want to be the talk of town; I want to have a high social standing.” No, that shouldn’t be your goal; and if it is, then you’re quickly putting together effective ingredients for failure.
The respective units you pursue in media school prepare you for something – responsibility and commitment, not “fame”.
And the two words – responsibility and commitment – separate successful from lackluster journalists. They also separate interesting from banal news-gatherers. The two words define what you want to be in the journalism industry, and how “big” you would be.
-Media in transition-
Sometimes, the things that make us uncomfortable are the same things that aid in our pursuit of success.
The media industry is one of the places that require a lot of curiosity for knowledge. To some, this curiosity is inborn yet again it is something that can be nurtured.
One should be aware of the things that happen within and out of their environment. In case your passion is inclined to specific societal issues, then you are not lost.
If you are highly-conservative, and less open to new ways of doing things, you’ll likely face challenges navigating the fast-changing media landscape.
With the daily innovations and advancement of technology, this industry favours people who respond to change in a timely fashion.
-Unpredictable working hours-
News-making and selling is a highly-perishable business.
Look at this 2017 scenario: President Kenyatta is declared winner of a presidential race at 9:40pm by the electoral board. At 9:45pm, Twitter is awash with the “news”. Thousands of tweets and retweets about the same are posted all over the micro-blogging site, and even Facebook.
The following morning at 8am, you write a “news” item headlined: “Kenyatta beats 6 rivals in race for president.” Who would care about your story, anyway? The same story was broken nearly 12 hours ago. That is how obsolete you get as a news agency, when you don’t do things swiftly in this enterprise.
If you want to get it done, and get it right, immediacy is key in this fast-paced business. That is the secret of having a cutting edge over your competitors. Audiences have become more media literate, and know what news-item timelines are. And since they are aware of that, even if it means working longer hours to deliver fresh hourly updates, do it. It pays in the long run; and in many cases today it pays instantly. If you’re sure this is the career for you, brace yourself for long-working hours. Breaking news happens at any time of the day or night.
-Audiences’ needs are priority-
The main focus in this industry is on content delivery.
Audiences are always your priority and, therefore, whatever you have to offer should be of public interest.
You will notice that most of the media content is based on issues affecting the society.
Politics and socio-economic information make a bulk of media content.
What does it take to be a media personality and what do you need to know? Here is what some of the media personalities from Royal Media Services had to say.
News anchor Victoria Rubadiri says: “Expect the unexpected because the industry is so dynamic and every hour a story changes. A story in the morning can be a totally different story in the evening. It is an industry that will always keep you on your feet. If you like that kind of adrenaline rush, then the media is a place for you.”
Citizen news reporter Hassan Mugambi says: “The media industry is not about being behind the screens or the perception that many of us have. The newsroom is tough if you are not cut for the job. It is only during the internship that you ask yourself whether you are ready for it. Many people dim their journalism dream during internship. I usually tell people that the newsroom is not a biscuit-manufacturing company. It deals with fresh news everyday and, therefore, it is not a bed of roses. At the end of it all, if you think you want to do it, come to it.”
News reporter Wilkista Nyabwa says: “It takes a lot of time to grow in this industry. For broadcast, it is time-intensive; it can be a 24/hour job. People usually think that we only get behind the screens at that exact time we are live on TV but it is always a process and it takes most of our time.”