Koimett: As media embraces paywall, remember citizens need access to vital information


Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja with Broadcast and Telecommunications PS Esther Koimett at the new Standard Group converged newsroom. [Patrick Wanjohi, Standard]

Kenyan media embracing paywalls and paid-for content should consider that vital information is everyone's right.

Broadcast and Telecommunications PS Esther Koimett has said the “media should not sit on the fence”.

The Standard Group has over the past two years been executing a transformation agenda that is aimed at making its operations relevant to the fast-paced, digitally-fronted information and communication market which is not only beneficial to the audience but makes journalists versatile to all platforms.

With slashed advertising budgets by most companies occasioned by the pandemic, media houses such as the Standard Group have adopted the paywall which allows readers to access premium stories on the websites at a cost.

Even though the system is novel in Kenyan media, the launch in the past few months has shown positive results with a good number of Kenyans slowly adopting it.

“Throughout history independent media, especially in our environment, has been financed by private enterprise. We now need to think about the future,” Standard Group Editor-in-Chief Ochieng Rapuro said at a past event.

The Kenyan media has been urged to take up its rightful spot in channeling conversations that help the public make informed decisions.

She noted with concern sensational journalism and what she described as a misuse of online platforms.

Koimett spoke at the Standard Group converged newsroom during the relaunch of KTN News.

The PS recognised media as an agent of political and social development.

She urged the organisations to monitor government but also practise balanced reporting.

Koimett lauded electronic media for providing free public service announcements as was seen during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. “There is still more that can be done.”

On infrastructure, the PS said the government has played its role in laying it down to transform media.

She cited fibre optic cables to aid the rapid spread of knowledge as well as improve access to services.

The role of media in the democratisation process will go a long way toward supporting good governance.

Koimett called on the media to represent issues and facts to create a positive perception of the country.

The ministry is keen on working with the Media Council of Kenya to review policies and create a conducive environment for the practitioners.

On the challenge of losing jobs and revenue, the CS said media must find new ways of doing business.

She said the ministry is especially ready to support grassroots media houses.

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