This Is What I Have Been Up To: athingunderstood.com

Dear everyone, hope this finds you well.

Been a while since I last put up something detailedly personal here. October makes it 10 months since I left Radiocity 97FM and moved to Nairobi for school at the United States International University.

A number of you, through comments, tweets, emails and inboxes, have been asking what I have been up to (which is evidence that school has had me pinned down). I hope this post, with which I intend to share where my journalistic journey is at, will answer the what-have-you-been-up-to question.

Moving to Nairobi reminds me of the first time I swam in the deep end. Those first moments when the coach threw me into the water, I had two options. Sink and drown. Or use my newly-acquired floating skills and stay afloat. I chose the latter.

The media environment in Kenya, or Nairobi specifically, is deep in many aspects. “More” might be the righter word. More zeal. More competition. More money. More radio and TV stations. More people who are good at what they do. More international channels setting up base. More possibilities and opportunities. More and more more.

To keep afloat in this deep end, I have found myself dedicating time to bring to existence an idea which first came to mind back in 2012. Coincidentally, the idea seems to sync with a growing trend at big news outlets such as the New York Times.

This is the idea in a couple of lines.

More than ever, the internet has made the consumption of news a very pacy and dynamic experience. With breaking news just a click away, journalists and those who employ them, have found themselves flying with this must-have-it-first kind of news dissemination.

The jostle has somehow shifted journalists from the initial responsibility of angling whatever it is they are disseminating in a manner that helps the consumer understand it. Rather, the commonest way of doing things today is breaking the news…more breaking until we have to break another story. Before the consumer can understand what the Marburg hullabaloo is about, we are telling them about Eurobonds and throwing numbers from a new alarming study. Factors such as limited resources make this model the affordable option.

Affordable as it might be, this way of doing things definitely leaves a gap that can only be filled if, as journalists, we pause and explain things once in a while. At the moment, there is a noticeable shift in newsrooms around the world to bring back the explanatory angle. Not like it had gone extinct but clearly, it’s been overshadowed by the BREAKING NEWS way of doing things.

My idea, athingunderstood.com, can somewhat be described as an addition to this movement in which journalists, media owners and even consumers, are starting to realise that breaking the news or having the scoop first is not enough. Information today is often carrying a never-seen-before story e.g. the ongoing Islamic State story in Iraq. If local audiences are to understand the issue at hand, which is every journalist’s intention, the role of explaining things is inevitable.

The A Thing Understood website is ready to go online and will be launched on October 9, which also happens to be my birthday. It is not a breaking news website. No. It is a place whose goal is to attempt and explain certain aspects of the news cycle as much as possible.

I look forward to hearing your comments about the site and while this makes for a lengthy read, it cannot end without a THANK YOU to everyone who wishes me well.

Thank you.

Songa Samuel-Stone

Follow @SongaStone

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