KALEKYE: Kenyan media's future powered by AI

New generation of tech-perceptive journalists, media entrepreneurs are leveraging power of AI to reinvent this declining sector.

In Summary
  • Beyond content creation, AI is also changing the way media organisations curate and distribute their products.
  • From the newsroom to the boardroom, this technology is ushering in a new era of efficiency, customisation and innovation.

This morning as I sit in my office sipping a cup of coffee and scrolling through the latest headlines to see if we have missed any story and of course looking for advertising leads, it is hard not to be struck by the rapid pace of technological changes sweeping across the media landscape in Kenya. Artificial Intelligence, a once futuristic concept, is now quite literary at my fingertips, transforming how news is created curated and consumed.

The media industry in Kenya has traditionally been rather staid and risk-averse. Hidebound traditional newspapers, which I love by the way, plodding broadcast outlets and a general reluctance to embrace new tools and techniques have long been the norm in Kenya.

Fortunately, that is starting to change, as a new generation of tech-perceptive journalists and media entrepreneurs are leveraging the power of AI to reinvent this declining sector.

One of the most promising applications of AI in the Kenyan media sector is in the realm of content creation. Natural language processing algorithms are now able to generate coherent, well-structured articles on a wide range of topics—from breaking news to sports recaps to listicles.

These “robotic reporters" can produce first draft at lighting speed, freeing up human journalists to focus on higher-level tasks like research, investigation, analysis, high quality and compelling stories.

Of course, the use of AI in content creation raises thorny questions about the role of human journalists. After all, won’t these automated systems eventually make stained wretches like myself obsolete?

The answer is no and pushing back against that notion is that AI is a tool, not a replacement. We will still rely very much on our teams of talented reporters and editors to provide the insight, context and nuance that makes journalism truly compelling. The machines can handle the heavy lifting, but humans provide the heart and soul, which is irreplaceable.

Beyond content creation, AI is also changing the way media organisations curate and distribute their products. Sophisticated algorithms can now analyse user data, track engagement metrics and make highly personalised recommendations ensuring readers, listeners and viewers are served content that is tailored to their unique interests and preferences.

Imagine a news platform that curates content based on your individual political leanings or a music streaming service that recommends songs based on your mood and past listening history. This will not only enhance the relevance and engagement of content but also open up new avenues for niche content creation, catering to specific interests and demographics.

This level of hyper-personalisation will be a game changer in the media landscape as diverse and fragmented as Kenya’s. No longer will news consumers have to sift through a one-size-fits-all homepage or channel line-up. Instead, their digital experience will meticulously be optimised to achieve relevance and satisfaction.

This transformation is currently happening in Kenya as media managers are able to know how many people are tuning in, and beyond that, with the help of AI analytics, they have a granular understanding of who these viewers/readers are and what they want.

For media houses, this is huge, as it will unlock new avenues for monetisation. Media houses will be able to develop innovative subscription models and pay-per-view options, catering to different user preferences and willingness to pay.

Of course, the rise of AI in Kenya media has come with its fair share of challenges and potential pitfalls like algorithmic bias that can perpetuate existing inequalities and reinforce stereotypes, privacy concerns and the spread of misinformation, which will pose significant challenges to the credibility of journalism and trust in news. There are also thorny questions around transparency, accountability and ever blurring the line between journalism and automation

The overall trajectory is clear. AI is poised to be a transformative force in the Kenyan media landscape. From the newsroom to the boardroom, this technology is ushering in a new era of efficiency, customisation and innovation. And for the media consumers, the future has never been brighter – or more tailored to your individual tastes.

As I finish my coffee and ponder the implications of this AI-powered media revolution, I cannot help but feel a sense of excitement and optimism. The AI revolution has arrived and its transformative impact on the Kenyan media landscape is just beginning to unfold. The road ahead may be uncertain but one thing is clear, the Kenyan media’s best days are still to come.

Chairperson, Media Owners Association

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