Matthew Busiega

Matthew is an amazingly jovial man with a ready smile, who gets along with nearly every one. When he is at Daystar University’s main town campus, his will probably be the first smile you meet. Genial and helpful, he leaves a lasting impression. It is no wonder that he makes friends easily. Here is the interview with Matthew Busiega

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Remembering Rwanda

Mediastorm hosts many stories that cut right into the heart of an individual. The stories are powerfully told, both from a narrative point of view but also from the visuals. The individuals who tell these tragic stories, who have survived many of life’s challenges, are framed in a dignified way – their beauty still shining through the sorrow that scars their skin. One would want to enjoy visiting the site but the power of the stories leave a visitor frozen wondering about the world we leave in.

Intended Consequences, featuring the Rwanda genocide, is one such story. The stories of women who were raped repeatedly; forced to drink blood; left for dead in the middle of other dead bodies in church, in the riverbed and in other places; infected with HIV virus and some surviving to face uncertain life is matched with the dark background setting of the website.  It draws attention to the plight of these Rwandese, to take note of the fact that while the genocide happened the world stood by, and in the word of one of the narrators now the world should “come to support us as we deal with the legacy of genocide”.  The stories are moving and there are links to enable one respond to this story.

The setting of the website and of the story demands a response from the viewer.  The pictorial is a mixture of still and motion pictures blending beautifully. The inclusion of other stories on the right side of the page allows the viewer to move on to a different story if one cannot bear the grimness of the story one is viewing. But there is also a provision for involvement. On the left side of the page there is provision to comment, to share the story with others or to post it on one’s own website or blog by embedding it in the text. A click on a link provides one with instructions on how to get involved, for example, by reporting abuses to Amnesty International. But it also has provision for downloading the transcript besides only listening to the audio and viewing the visuals.

At the top bar the viewer can click on the contributor’s link that leads to the bios of the authors. But it also has provision for people to submit any stories that they might have to the sight. I would have loved it to have a link to the individual victims so that one can read their profiles too – how they coped after and where they are now.

This story is both multimedia i.e. there is the transcript that can be printed, there are visuals and also audio; but it is also interactive. You can embed it; you can send it to others and also asks the viewer to do something in response to this story.

Musing over Online Journalism in Kenya

Kenya is one of the active media markets in Africa – but this activity is largely limited to print and electronic i.e. television and radio media. This tradition is influenced by the media model the country adopted at independence about 50 years ago. While in most African countries government or the ruling party had a significant say in what format the media structure assumed, Kenya’s was left to a market system so much so that, apart from the national broadcaster which loosely is modeled after the BBC, the newspapers, the radio and television stations in the country are all commercial.

However, the government, until very recently, had fairly a strong hold over the airwaves. The loosening of the government influence over this began about 20 years ago. But the system of liberalizing the airwaves was strongly controlled by the government with the result that there was no competition among the players. Consequently, the cost of accessing internet remained fairly high in Kenya. It is only in the last couple of years that competition, coupled with the landing of fibre optic at the port of Mombasa, is beginning to lead to reduced cost of accessing ICT.

Typical of developing nations, however, the thin spread of other enabling infrastructures such as electricity and access to the country side has meant that there is less access of internet in the countryside. This has impacted the media in the sense that there has been slow uptake of online journalism across the country.

The leading media houses, the Nation Media Group and the Standard Group are accessible online. However, to my mind the practice on their websites is largely posting of content that had appeared either in their newspaper or the loading of their TV content on their website. Basically, they have the same clip from the TV posted on the website. It is not a case where a reporter does a hard copy version and prepares an audio or video version of the same story that would then be posted online.

Since the liberalization of access to airwaves and the adoption of a more democratic process in acquiring frequencies, there are many radio and TV stations in the country. Most of them have online presence. But again, the postings on the sites consist of uploading previously broadcast content, or streaming live broadcast.

The Nation website does have a photo gallery and a discussion site where readers can post comments. The Standard has an online editorial team. But the stories the Standard team posts are specifically written for that online audience presumably targeting Kenyans in the diaspora.

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