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Citizen story of granny, 83, donating land for school was exemplary

By Dex Mumo

In the corporate world, we say customers know what they want. Similarly, consumers of our stories understand what they want. They can sense when things are going wrong. They are aware when canonical journalism is sloughing away into the doldrums. Creating stories that truly resonate with readers remains a crucial aspect of journalism. Media has evolved significantly in today’s digital era, with journalists accessing tools that provide insights into their audience’s preferences.

An 83-year-old granny from Baringo acted unconventionally, and her story wins the applause of this article.

On August 30, 2023, Citizen Digital published an inspiring story about the granny from Baringo South who selflessly donated her land to support the construction of a local school. What caught my attention was the comment section on X, where users expressed their appreciation, not so much for the act of the granny, but for such positive stories.

One user commented: “Finally… good news coming from Kenya. @citizentvkenya, please get us such good news on a day like today.” Similar comments followed.

Why do some stories evoke such strong reactions from readers? The response implies that journalism might have neglected impactful stories in favour of good-for-nothing tales. It reminded me to launch a search for another story from featuring the Deputy President taking selfies with citizens at Nairobi’s 8th Season of the African Tech Challenge Awards. On the contrary, citizens got enraged.

@omwambaKE responded, “A selfie is news nowadays, weuh!” Another reader, @254_insights, queried, “Where is the News here?” while @JimmyBoyd254 criticised: “Very cheap headline. This is not important.” Yet, @SidrahOmar asked, “Is this news?”

All these responses show that society is the universal media observer—they know when the rain starts beating. Therefore, when most Kenyans react positively to the story by Citizen Digital on the 83-year-old granny, they are clamouring for more positive stories—reports that amplify relatable acts, which should be emulated within society.

Moreover, such observations raise intriguing questions about the type of stories Kenyan media typically covers and how audiences respond to them.

The story about the granny’s generosity exemplifies the power of community impact. It showcases how stories focusing on changing lives and making a positive difference in the community can deeply resonate with readers.

As journalists focus on the 5W’s & H of a news story—Who, What, Where, When, Why and How—it is equally important to address three other critical questions: Who am I writing for? Why is it important for them to read it? And what will they find interesting? These questions focus on forming a deep understanding of the target audience and crafting stories that captivate and engage them.

Journalists, indeed, face two types of aspirational audiences. The first is an individual, such as an editor or a senior professional figure, whose opinion holds significant weight. The second is the broader context in which their work is published, which may shape the intended audience. These audiences may provide direct value to the writer, such as recognition, financial rewards, or career advancement. Ultimately, the goal of journalism is to serve the public and make an impact. Stories must not only be essential but also interesting to capture the attention of readers.

In conclusion, while modern journalism benefits from advanced tools and analytics to understand audiences, the challenge of creating stories that genuinely resonate remains. Journalists must strive to tell meaningful and exciting stories that captivate readers, focusing on community impact and positive change. If journalists understand their audience and craft compelling narratives, they can fulfill their mission of serving the public and creating meaningful impact through their work.

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