So, is journalism marketable in Kenya?
Well, the short answer is: it is still marketable but not as it used to be in earlier years.
Here is our long answer..
Is journalism marketable in Kenya – the long answer
Let me now explain…
You see, because of the emergence of digital media (think of blogs, online radio and TV stations, YouTube, and the like), traditional media has been facing turbulence as more people turn to free news sources and social media.
As a result, you’re likely to have a better chance to make it in the field if you’re more digital oriented compared to someone who’s targeting to work as a traditional newscaster, reporter, producer, etc.
Don’t get me wrong: jobs are still there and some media personalities take home a lot of money……
You cannot, however, close your eyes to the fact that even leading media houses such as Nation Media group are increasingly turning digital as print newspaper circulation drop.
That means fewer jobs and the need for trainees to be creative and to look beyond the mainstream media.
As such, somebody who specializes in Digital Journalism is going to be more marketable moving forward.
Besides, you might need to be entrepreneurial.
For example, opening your own online news platform or even a YouTube channel can pay more (over time) vis-à-vis a fulltime job.
This can also be a great idea since it may take you some time to land full-time employment.
How else can you make yourself marketable as a journalist?
You could market yourself as a freelance editor both online and offline- there is a couple of outlets that engage editors on freelancing basis.
The other place you can offer your services is international writing platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr (register as a freelance writer).
Also consider writing a book or an eBook – you could earn some extra cash on the side from the book/eBook sales.
Likewise, there is no shortage of avenues to raise cash as a photojournalist- you can take and sell photos online on sites such as Shutterstock (Earn up to $100-120 per image), iStockphoto, and many others.
You can freelance as a photojournalist too for various media houses or even work as a celebrity photographer with your skills.
Tips on how to become a journalist in Kenya
Here are some tips to point you in the right direction if you have decided that you still want to become a journalist in Kenya..
1. Essential skills
To become successful as a journalist, you need to have a strong interest in the news and current affairs.
You’re the sort of person that will give anything just to watch news, read daily newspapers, magazines, etc.
You must also be an avid reader because you need to develop impeccable writing skills.
Other than that, you need to practice good speaking skills.
At a personal level, you must be very sociable and self-confident.
You also need to be objective in the way you see things.
2. Desirable background
To make it as a journalist, having a strong background in journalistic and related activities will serve you well.
For example, trainees who have been actively involved in the journalism club while in high school find it easier.
Those who have participated in the drama or debating clubs are also at advantage when it comes to journalism courses.
3. Required grades
Overall, for a degree in journalism, you must have scored a mean grade of C+ in KCSE with excellent grades in the languages (Kiswahili and English).
Those with a C- qualify for a Diploma in Journalism in local colleges.
Some colleges offer a certificate course in Journalism though it’s best to advance to at least the Diploma level if you want to be competitive.
4. Where to train
Some of the best universities to study journalism in Kenya are:
- The University of Nairobi.
- Daystar University.
- Moi University.
- Maseno University.
- Riara University.
We recommend the government-owned Kenya Institute of Mass Communication (KIMC) in South B as the best college to study if you’re taking a Diploma programme.
Read more: Journalism colleges in Kenya
Advantages of becoming a Journalist
- You’ll be rubbing shoulders with big names in Kenya – politicians, celebrities, business leaders, and more.
- There is a lot of travel in the process of hunting for news or information for feature articles.
- The pay is good especially if you secure employment with international media companies (even some local firms pay well).
- You’re always aware about the current happenings in the World.
Disadvantages of a journalism career
- You’ll be away from your family sometimes for many hours, for example, when covering events in far flung areas.
- The career can make you collide with people who may want to take revenge by harming you. For example, investigative journalists often face threats and sometimes they have to go in hiding.
- You may also be exposed to situations that hurt you emotionally, for instance, accident scenes, war zones, and more.
- There’s more competition nowadays and pay has been reducing consistently.
Is journalism marketable in Kenya – Recap
As we have seen, a journalism career may not be as prime as the way it was a few years ago because of the growth of digital media.
But there are opportunities for those who’re creative and open minded – we have explained them above.
Also don’t forget that journalism is a calling and you’ll scale to the top of the world over time if you’re passionate about it.
Journalism courses in Kenya