Thursday, 20 Mar 2014

Kenyan blogosphere: separating the grain from the chaff

By Boni Odinga, Internews in Kenya

They have been referred to as the 5th estate and in Kenya they could as well earn another moniker. Many bloggers are rushing in to replace the print gutter press. From sensational reporting to a tabloidization galore. The recent tragedy of one young female model taking a HIV test and posting the results online in rebuttal to a story that was injurious to both her person and career is a case in point. These few unscrupulous cooks spoil the broth for the others and perhaps the ongoing (Bloggers Association of Kenya) BAKE awards voting could help separate the grain from the chaff. Nonetheless the jury could be out on whether the chaff could if at all have some dark entertainment value for some. But let us focus on those who deliver what doesn’t require parental advisory disclaimers.

Hitherto referred to as citizen or alternative media the truth is, there are some blogs that exhibit outstanding journalism and mind tickling prose. Bikozulu for example, gets my vote outright in the creative blogs category!
The awards have several categories namely: Photography, business, health, travel, technology, environmental, politics, sports, food, fashion, corporate and creative writing.

 “We aim to improve the quantity and quality of content online,” says (BAKE) the group behind the awards.
There are so many blogs littering Kenya’s cyber space like ghafla!, pikachakula, SoftKenya, Daily Post, Vibe Weekly, Nairobi Wire, Kenyatech, The Nairobian and Niaje posting content in different categories.
The Kenyan Blog Awards seeks to reward bloggers that post on a regular basis, “have great and useful content, are creative and innovative. These awards represent BAKE’s efforts in the promotion of quality content creation.”

This is the third year that BAKE, in conjunction with stakeholders, is rewarding bloggers. The 2014 BAKE Kenyan Blog Awards will see the addition of two new categories, a “Best Health Blog” category and a “Best County Blog” category. This will raise the total number of categories from the current 15 to 17.

Voting for best blogs per category is ongoing at
The inaugural BAKE Blog Awards was held in 2012. It rewarded bloggers in 14 categories; best technology, photography, creative writing, business, food, agriculture, fashion, politics, sports,  general and corporate blogs as well as giving out awards for the ‘tweeps’ of the year. Three hundred blogs were submitted and 10,000 people voted In a recent presentation at the Mobile East Africa Conference in Nairobi, Ghafla! ( founder Samuel Majani said his blog has grown to be the second  “most influential Kenya media company and the fourth largest website with about 1.5 million readers, and 30 million page views per month".

Mr. Majani said the content bloggers used to produce what was considered as irresponsible and of little value just like junk food. “But like junk food, people still find it unavoidable to consume despite the known danger…” he said. According to Majani, Ghafla is now more professional and has shifted from an anonymous blog to a digital media company that is accessible, with known writers and offices. Mirroring a mini newsroom, now has an editorial team of five people who upload 55 pieces of content per day. According to Mr. Majani, the team operates on a journalistic code of conduct “like calling to verify stories, giving credit to other sources, and issuing updates and apologies when they are wrong".

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