An enlightened media industry can lift the entire country

January 27, 2015

While many people are eager to work in the media for the perceived glamor and connections the industry provides, a new study reveals that majority of the would-be journalists possess less skills to succeed in an industry that only accommodates the finest.Based on the research, the media has been the most consistently sought-after industry for job seekers across the developing world, according to an online recruitment service.This isn’t just happening in Kenya and Thailand but also in other countries like China, Brazil, India etc according to the extensively written study.Much of this interest on the part of job seekers was based on several misconceptions, including the idea that media work was easy.“Plenty of graduates have no idea that producing a story requires a certain set of writing and interviewing skills. In Brazil, many people drawn to the idea of working in television had little idea of what was actually involved.In South Africa, plenty didn’t realize that behind the flashy images, working in television is a laborious job that demands long hours. One academic in Kenya quoted in the report said that many aspiring journalists, armed with incorrect perceptions of the job, failed to develop the skills required to succeed in the media.

Another academic in the research who works as dean of academic affairs at a private university in Dar Es Salaam Tanzania that operates communications school ,said that according to the feedback they received from media companies, most journalists in Tanzanians did not have a full grasp of the subjects they were assigned to cover. That according to him is the reason why they have a system in place in their school which requires students to take up other topics, so they have a better grasp of specific issues and that way, when accredited Tanzanian Journalists go out into the field, they don’t ask their interview subjects irrelevant questions.The study also reveals that thought most people in developing world who jumped into the media for the wrong reasons would eventually lose their enthusiasm for the job and seek greener pastures in better-paying fields.Although I cannot share the salary range of Journalist’s in different countries, the pay is meagre and doesn’t realistically reflect the economic situation in those countries.

Some people in Kenyan and Nigerian media viewed their jobs as mere stepping-stones to more lucrative careers where a majority end up working for corporate companies and PR/Media marketing agencies. The study also advises that anyone who wanted to make a real career out of being a journalist needed to start by learning the basics of the job. Aspiring journalists need to understand the fundamental concepts of covering both sides of the story, fairness and truth. In direct contrast to more developed economies, the print media in developing countries is thriving with new publications, both newspapers and serious magazines, being launched.On the broadcast media front, the injection of private capital and entrepreneurship has revived television stations with better content and programs.This has boosted viewership, as proven by surveys that for example noted that East Africans receive both entertainment and news through television. Readership is growing healthily, as is the number of newspapers in developing countries. With the emergence of a free press and greater competition, the quality of journalism has risen in places like Africa where just decades ago was unimaginable. But far more needs to be done to improve editorial standards.

In a conversation with a seasoned Australian Journalist last year, it was clear that in determining the role the media should play in society, Journalists need to ask themselves who they serve including the shareholders, who have risked capital, and ensuring profitability as well as play a crucial role in nation-building and in disseminating information. For a developing countries, one of the key roles played by the media industry is that of educating the citizenry. As the bulk of them receive their news from television and Radio, they are guided and molded by what they view or listen daily in their living rooms. In a dozen of African countries I have been lucky to travel to, there are cases where professionalism within the media industry is lacking, although this may be partially due to low salaries and demotivated workforce as the study I revealed. Unfortunately, journalism is not a career that attracts the brightest talent both in management and reporting.To raise overall standards, more journalism courses that incorporate subjects must be offered at university level across developing countries because an enlightened media industry can lift the entire country.

Contador Harrison