Aga Khan University hosts East African Communication Association Conference

Aga Khan University hosts East African Communication Association Conference

From Left: Maurice Makoloo, Director, Ford Foundation, Eastern Africa; Wilson Ugangu, President, East Africa Communication Association and Dr. Alex Awiti, Vice Provost and Interim Dean, The Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications at the opening ceremony of the East Africa Communication Association Conference.

Today’s era of disruption is forcing the media and communication industry to reinvent and embrace innovation in order to support their business models and achieve profitability. This was the highlight of discussions between media and communication scholars and practitioners at the 9th East Africa Communication Association (EACA) Conference hosted by The Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications (GSMC) at Movenpick Hotel, Westlands.

The conference themed, ‘Embracing Innovation, Surviving Disruption: New Frontiers for Journalism and Communication’ aims at offering solutions to the challenges that the media sector is currently facing and will interrogate how new technological trends are transforming the sector in East Africa.

Dr. Alex Awiti, Interim Dean at GSMC and Vice Provost, Aga Khan University, East Africa acknowledged that the media and communications sector is facing daunting change in these unprecedented times, as disruption is forcing the sector to constantly innovate in order to remain competitive. “Fake news, digital age, shrinking print circulation, unreeling public, and autocratic, despotic regimes present a new dawn, not a peril, for media businesses and the craft of journalism. With these major shifts, legacy and non-traditional media industries must realign their strategies in order to survive,” he said.

He further added that as GSMC, we are helping practitioners embrace innovation through our partnership with DW Akademie to implement the Futures Project for Media Innovation and Sustainability, which will work with media houses in East Africa to promote innovation, build knowledge, and strengthen the capacity of journalists and media institutions.

Dr. Wilson Ugangu, President of EACA acknowledged the theme of the conference as timely and relevant considering the transformations the sector is witnessing. “The conference offers an opportunity to consider what is going on, and to seek to build ideas about how to better understand and respond – as academics, researchers and practitioners,” he further added.

With new players entering the media spaces, there are now more producers and consumers of content. However, content produced should be compelling and supported by facts. “There is no substitute for depth and trust. Now more than ever, there is need for collective responsibility of the spaces that we own and a need to invest in investigative journalism, as the quality of our journalism depends on facts,” said Maurice Makoloo, Director, Ford Foundation, Eastern Africa.

The conference further aims to explore how media organizations are responding to shifts in consumer expectation, investigate the impact of shifting demographics, examine how the sector is adapting to declining profitability and interrogate the capacity of journalism schools in training for a changed and rapidly changing market.

GSMC continues to invest in the improvement of the quality of media practitioners by hosting the conference. It is committed to keeping the knowledge discourse alive among media practitioners, and in so doing hopes to help contribute to quality training and nurturing of seasoned media practitioners.

The discussion was a starting point for continuous conversations and action plans with other relevant stakeholders to drive media sustainability and viability agenda.

The speakers were Dr Sam Kamau (Convener, East Africa Communication Association Conference); Dr Wilson Ugangu (President, East Africa Communication Association); Dr. Alex Awiti (Vice Provost and Interim Dean, The Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications) and Maurice Makoloo (Director, Ford Foundation, Eastern Africa).