Home Entertainment Redefining Entertainment Journalism for Kenya’s New Era of Media

Redefining Entertainment Journalism for Kenya’s New Era of Media

Serious entertainment journalists work to separate the news from the noise, maintaining the value of their work through accurate and factual reporting.

by By Victor Otengo
Redefining Entertainment Journalism for Kenya's New Era of Media

According to Geopoll.com’s Media Audience Analytics for Kenya in 2023, entertainment journalism dominates the media industry in Kenya, producing the highest percentage of content created and consumed by both traditional and digital media audiences.

Over the years, the media landscape has been abuzz with new technologies, evolving consumer preferences, and a growing appetite for diverse and authentic storytelling. The Kenyan entertainment audience quickly embraces influencers with big followings as reliable sources of information and news, leaving journalists with the new task of building personal brands to remain competitively employable.

Jacob Otieno, the Managing Editor at TUKO.co.ke, highlights this shift: “The most significant change has been how we consume media. The rise of the smartphone has revolutionized how people access and interact with media, such as listening to the radio, watching television, accessing the internet, streaming video, listening to music, reading print media, and more.”

The increasing reliance on mobile phones has intensified competition for attention. “Because the mobile phone is an on-the-go device with a diverse range of offerings, there is increased access to media and, importantly, competition for attention,” adds Otieno.

Marvin Chege, Managing Editor at Viral Tea.co.ke, believes this is a no-win situation,  “Journalists are struggling to compete with entertainment influencers in a competition that they can’t win unless media bosses take the journalists a bit more seriously.”

Chege suggests that the role of entertainment journalists has shifted, requiring them to have journalistic skills and grow their brand to remain relevant. “Now, celebrities and influencers are not interested in working with entertainment journalists, whom they consider opportunists instead of ladders to their success. Entertainment journalists are accused of using influencers’ social media pages to get sellable stories instead of doing investigative work for fresh perspectives.”

Moreover, the relationship between journalists and marketing or event agencies has changed. “No one sends press releases anymore. If anything, marketing and event agencies now call journalists, expecting them to come and enjoy their events and then publish the press release without any questions or bad reviews of their work. They demand it,” says Chege.

Despite these changes, entertainment journalism still generates the most content consumed on digital platforms in Kenya. Serious entertainment journalists work to separate the news from the noise, maintaining the value of their work through accurate and factual reporting. Their role has become more challenging and crucial as they strive to add value by providing context and ensuring accuracy in an information-rich environment.

Addressing the Imbalance

Several steps can be taken to address the marginalization of entertainment journalists.

Media councils and journalism societies should include entertainment journalism in their awards and training programs. This inclusion would validate the work of entertainment journalists and offer them opportunities for professional growth.

Entertainment editors and journalists should also be included in decision-making bodies like the Editors Guild, ensuring their unique challenges and contributions are acknowledged.

While social media influencers have their place, media houses should ensure that those hired for journalistic roles meet professional standards. This approach would help maintain the quality and integrity of entertainment journalism .

Local journalism awards and training programs often overlook entertainment journalists, prioritizing complex news categories and perpetuating the perception that entertainment journalism is less serious or valuable. This exclusion denies entertainment journalists the recognition and development opportunities their peers in other fields enjoy.


About Author;
Victor Otengo is a TUKO.co.ke Head of Entertainment. He attended the Multimedia University of Kenya, where he studied for a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.

He has six years of experience in the journalism field and has previously worked as a writer at Standard Digital, and reporter and sports pundit for Kwese TV (under African Insights).

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