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Bloggers are the last nail on traditional journalism’s coffin

That traditional journalism is struggling to catch last breaths is not news anymore. Newspapers are soon going to be rendered obsolete in our society. I don’t remember the last time I bought a newspaper so I dint even care when their prices went up to 60.

I find people who buy newspapers everyday as boring people…like my boss who has subscription of four dailies for the office which I never bother to read. Not that I don’t like news but mostly because there is nothing new about newspapers anymore. Their stories are usually stale for lack of a better word.

We are living in a fast paced society that has no time for people who can’t catch up. Newspapers have for a long time been on their death beds with the introduction of Radio and TV. They nolonger broke news but we still bought them because they gave us an in-depth analysis of every headline. Then come the new media and that final nail on the coffin was hit.

Today news breaks in blogs, on facebook and twiiter. Media practitioners might be slow at accepting this but social media users (now called Citizen Journalists) have been breaking major news to the extent that the media houses have ” social media bigwigs” as their sources.

One of my investigative pieces in my other blog for instance has been quoted by several newspapers with some even publishing my article word by word and at times without giving credit. Click here to read one such quote by the Standard.

So when Media Council of Kenya CEO, Harun Mwangi said that bloggers will be forced to take classes in journalism and mass communication I could not help but laugh. To me that is another attempt by the traditional media to try and remain relevant in today’s world.

Who said bloggers would want to be regulated by the Media Council? Bloggers are not journalists and many of them don’t even wish to be. They are comfortable being bloggers and not being referred to as journalists who if you ask me are in the same class with politicians whom most of us love to hate.

Media Council of Kenya CEO Harun Mwangi argued that prosecuting bloggers was a challenge since they cannot be tagged to the journalism career.
“It becomes very hard when a complaint comes to our office that a blogger has defamed or abused a person online. This is because bloggers do not have any idea about journalism or the code of ethics,”

 Let me first say that I am a trained journalist but today I am a proud award winning blogger. Not every blogger wants to be a journalist, some of us really enjoy our day jobs. Most of us have day jobs that are in not anyway related to writing but when we do we do it so well.

Not every blogger should be a journalist but every journalist should own a blog. “

In order to remain relevant today every journalist should have a blog but not all bloggers should have training in journalism. That is the practice all over the world. Top journalists like Anderson Cooper, Beckie Anderson, Wolf Blitzer, Richard Quest and so many more have personal blogs where they publish stuff that won’t make it on air. That is how journalism is done in 2013.

Instead of forcing bloggers to be trained in journalism, it’s time that media schools updated their curriculum to cover new trends that have emerged with the development of the “new media” so that their graduates can be relevant in today’s news gathering and dissemination systems.

This is not to say that bloggers have a free hand to publish whatever they feel like. Bloggers subscribe to the laws of this land and those laws should be allowed to take charge whenever such issues arise. What I and indeed many bloggers are against is regulation by the Media Council of Kenya which does not represent bloggers in its governance structure.

So instead of asking all bloggers to attend media school I advocate for special training for bloggers on legal and ethical issues affecting their trade. This is a form of capacity building that can be successfully conducted by the Bloggers Association of Kenya.

But even before they try bringing us into their net of regulation…how successful have they been in regulating people under them? I know of several media practitioners in radio and TV who never stepped into anyone’s media school and every morning they defy hundreds of ethical codes with impunity.

Finally, we will only accept regulation if it is done by a body that represents us in its constitution. For now let’s wait and see how successful this attempt is going to be but I can already predict total failure because even if that recommendation was going to be adopted, how will it be enforced. For radio and Tv you can withdraw people’s licenses but I don’t need any to open and account on blogger or buy a domain. To me that is an exercise in futility.  

                                               Follow me on Twitter @IamOminde



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