Standard Group Editor-in-Chief Ochieng’ Rapuro (second-left) and WAM executives led by its Director-General Mohamed Jalal Alrayssi at Spice FM studios. [David Gichuru, Standard]

The importance of digital literacy in journalism featured heavily during the launch of the Emirates News Agency (WAM) White Paper on the annual Global Media Congress (GMC) at a Nairobi hotel on Thursday.

Panellists at the exclusive event also stressed the need for training in Artificial Intelligence tools in keeping with changing trends in the media and the critical role of decisive leadership in the industry.

The panel featured the Standard Group’s Editor-in-Chief Ochieng’ Rapuro, WAM Director-General Mohamed Jalal Alrayssi, Kanika Saigal, business editor at the Africa Report and Joseph Odindo, a senior lecturer at the Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communication, who formerly worked at the Standard.

Mr Rapuro argued that AI training was critical in journalism, explaining that AI tools must be custom-made for respective audiences.

“Most AI tools available are trained with material outside Africa and outside Kenya. We must highlight the need to localise AI for our domestic audiences,” he said.

Mr Alrayssi shared the same sentiments, calling for enhanced cooperation in incorporating new technologies across newsrooms.

“We have to work together internationally to enact laws and regulations to protect our copyrights as journalists,” said Alrayssi.

On his part, Mr Odindo emphasised the need for digital literacy among journalists, saying it is important that journalism students are trained in technology.

“There is a need for university curricula review, to bring it up to date with new technologies,” he stated.

The White Paper, themed ‘Decisive Leadership in an Increasingly Complex Media Landscape’ highlights pressing needs facing the global media, focusing on themes such as changing audience behaviour, the role of technology, sports and environmental journalism, among others across eight chapters.

“The media industry is undergoing rapid change – a change which demands decisive leadership. In this White Paper, we explore those decisions that media leaders need to make – like whether it be to incorporate AI into their operations or not – decisions which inevitably may have profound consequences,” added Alrayssi, stressing the need to craft a sustainable media industry of the future.

The publication of the White Paper follows last November’s GMC held in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates. The three-day event brought together nearly 24,000 experts from the media industry gathered  to address the most pressing issues facing the global media industry.

The Standard Group represented Kenya at the event. On Friday, WAM executives and representatives, led by its DG Alrayssi, visited the Standard Group’s headquarters along Mombasa Road, a key step in cementing their newly-found strategic partnership.