By Felix Kiprono and Winny Jerotich

One of the biggest questions facing journalism at the moment is: how do we engage audiences who are not only thirsty for reliable information, but are more interested in TikTok than traditional news? How do journalists share critical newsworthy information with consumers who have so much other content vying for their attention?

This is where VybeCast comes in, a project launched by Odipodev to experiment with new storytelling formats to reconnect journalists with their audiences. Since its inception in May 2023, VybeCast has garnered over 20,000 views. Each video explores important topics such as inflation and climate change with a specific focus on breaking these elements down and highlighting how they impact the everyday lives of Kenyans.

The early success of this platform has caught the attention of many in the local media industry and we were invited to share our insights at Africa Uncensored’s “Investigate 101” training in August 2023. The training combined theory and hands-on learning, with a major theme being New Media. Leveraging our years of shared experience, on-the-job learning and powerful partnerships in New Media, we shared insights with participants into digital platforms, innovative techniques, strategies to engage younger audiences, dealing with algorithms, and mastering new media writing. 21 journalists from some of the largest local media houses in Kenya joined the workshop.

We’ve distilled the key takeaways for you to harness the power of new media in your journalism. Let’s dive in…

What is New Media?

New media refers to digital platforms and technologies that enable interactive, user-generated content. It includes social media, blogs, videos, podcasts and more. New media is global, real-time and encourages user participation. It has transformed how we share and access information in the digital age.

5 Tips to master New Media in your storytelling

In the rapidly evolving landscape of journalism, the adoption of new media has become essential for engaging modern audiences. To effectively leverage new media in your storytelling, here are five valuable tips to consider. These insights will help you navigate the digital realm, captivate audiences and uphold the principles of credible reporting.

1. Break the boundaries to explore new formats and platforms

New media is all about embracing the digital evolution, which has opened the way to exploring different content formats and platforms. So don’t limit yourself to traditional methods; instead, adapt and innovate. From video storytelling to short-form content, consider platforms like TikTok and WhatsApp as untapped opportunities to engage diverse audiences.

2. Grab viewers’ attention in the first 3 seconds

In the world of fast-scrolling digital platforms, catching your audience’s attention is paramount. Within the first three seconds, your content should intrigue, surprise or provoke curiosity. Craft strong headlines, compelling visuals or gripping narratives that entice viewers to stop scrolling and engage with your story.

3. Build a strong network for effective distribution

A captivating story alone isn’t enough. Building a robust network is crucial for successful new media journalism. Collaborate with partners, influencers and fellow journalists to amplify your reach. Distribute your stories across various social media platforms and even unconventional channels like WhatsApp. A strong network ensures your stories don’t remain hidden but reach the widest audience possible.

4. Ensure unwavering accuracy

Once your content is out in the digital realm, and shared among users, it becomes a permanent record. Accuracy is non-negotiable. Verify your information rigorously before publishing, and ensure every detail is correct. Upholding accuracy is vital not only for maintaining trust but also for combating the spread of misinformation, especially among younger readers who crave reliable sources.

5. Uphold journalism ethics

Embracing new media doesn’t exempt journalists from ethical responsibilities. Regardless of the platform, journalism ethics remain paramount. Avoid sensationalism, verify sources and adhere to ethical guidelines. Self-regulation and adherence to ethical standards are essential to build and maintain trust with your audience.

There’s a significant opportunity for African journalists to harness the potential of new media. By implementing these five tips, you can enhance your storytelling capabilities and navigate the ever-changing digital landscape effectively.

You have the power to shape narratives, uncover hidden truths and inspire change. Seize the opportunities offered by new media, build your skills and continue to drive transparency, accountability and social change through your reporting.

This article was originally published by Africa Data Hub. It has been republished with permission.

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