Kachwanya: Kenyan bloggers are already being taken seriously

Kenya News

1. I am a computer security and forensics professional and a member of the Kenya Cyber Security and Forensic Association. What is your take regarding your members who publish hate speech or misleading information online, especially in relation to the recently enacted computer misuse and Cybercrime Act? Julius Njiraini
Congrats Julius, the country needs more computer security and forensics professionals. Let me start by saying that Bake is an opt-in opt-out membership organisation. Bloggers have the freedom to choose either to be our members or not. So not all the bloggers you read about online are members of Bake. Secondly, over the last seven years I have never seen any of our members being accused of spreading hate speech or giving misleading information. This is because they follow one simple code: “Stick to the truth no matter what.”
Having said, it is important to note that hate speech is well covered in our laws and anybody who spreads hate speech needs to be investigated and charged accordingly.
It is important to note that giving misleading information is not a crime per se, especially if it is not related to the section of the law mentioned above. Our constitution allows freedom of expression and the media. Bake trains and encourages bloggers to have their facts right. However, simply writing something which some people may consider misleading is not a crime.
2. How can bloggers maximise on the Bake platform to produce viable business ventures? Jossy Msafi, Murang’a
Bake’s mission is to promote local content creation and empower bloggers. For the Kenyan bloggers who have taken blogging seriously, Bake is always ready to help. We organise many trainings for bloggers and social media users in areas such as how to grow your platform from the content perspective, digital marketing, copyright and fair use, internet and law. The main aim of the trainings is to ensure that bloggers have the right skills to succeed online. Secondly, Bake organises a number of networking opportunities where bloggers, old and young, can meet and share ideas, as well as meet other digital industry players. And finally, we try to connect bloggers with blogging and social media opportunities that we come across and in particular, we try to connect the good publishers with the good brands.
3. What is the minimum amount a blogger can earn per month? Jossy Msafi, Murang’a
Interesting question. In Kenya, there are those who do blogging simply as a hobby and there are those who do it seriously as a business or a job. I would put bloggers into four categories: the hobbyists who blog for fun and do not earn an income from blogging. Most bloggers start as hobbyists. Part time professionals use blogging to supplement their income. I would say most Kenyan bloggers and influencers fall under this category. They have their day job but then blog part time. Then there are full time professionals, who are now employed by big blogs, media houses and corporates. Finally, there are the entrepreneurs who blog full time for the blogs they own. As a business, it follows the same path as any other businesses and at the beginning you expect to struggle. And people who do not get a better way to overcome the initial obstacles easily give up.
To answer your question, it depends on which of the above category you fall under. I assume the full time bloggers generally earn some good money per month. But I know you are more interested in the last category. Basically, big blogs make approximately Sh200,000 and above per month and that is how they are able to employ other bloggers to work within their platforms.
4. At the moment, the country is in the mood of confronting corruption which is threatening to stall all our ambitions. How can your members play a role in this using the platforms they command and the huge following they command? Komen Moris, Eldoret
Bloggers are already at the forefront in fighting corruption. When you look at some of the corruption cases like Ruaraka land, reclaiming Lang’ata playground, Chase Bank and National Bank fraud cases, KPLC and many more, it is the bloggers who did the stories first before the mainstream media picked them up.
5. It is always said that a civilised society enacts laws not for the good people in its midst, but to deter the bad ones from engaging in the anticipated vices. Many of your members were riled by the new law while many Kenyans were saying that it was long overdue. Sir, are your members harbouring ill motives in their engagement? Komen Moris, Eldoret
Laws are made to govern and protect people. If the people whom the laws are meant to protect feel that a certain set of laws are bad, then inferring that they have ill motive is simply not in order.
The foundation for the computer misuse and cybercrime law is great but the MPs did a shoddy job in coming up with the Act and that was the reason Bake challenged it in court. When the Bill was being worked on, many stakeholders — including bloggers — gave their views, especially on the sections touching on their work. At the end, some sections of the Act that parliament passed and was signed by the President were something else. Many sections were sneaked in and basically meant to harass bloggers, journalists and online users. Simply put, those sections are unconstitutional.
6. What is your actual role as chairman of the bloggers’ association and who oversees the work of bloggers considering that some of your members have been accused of character assassination and other unethical acts? Francis Njuguna, Kibichoi
I oversee the operations of the association, as well as worry about the long-term survival of the organisation. I also do a lot of training across the country. What I have learned in Kenya over time is that if you try to expose corruption and bad manners, in most cases people will say that you are involved in character assassination. That is why your question is a bit tricky.
As I have mentioned while answering another question here, Bake members follow the code of ethics and are trained to stick with the truth all the time. But within the blogging fraternity, there are some bad apples that are being used to attack others or to fight personal wars within the political space and even at the corporate level.
Our position is if you feel that a certain blogger has defamed you then take him/her to court and let the law take its course.
The biggest problem is that people do not follow the laid down procedure under the defamation law. World over it is the court of law that decide if someone is guilty but in Kenya powerful people — some very corrupt — misuse the police to harass bloggers, with the hope that they would stop writing.
7. We hear that some bloggers in the West became millionaires. Do we have bloggers who have made good money locally? Githuku Mungai
Yes. The owners of the blogs like BiznaKenya.co.ke, Kenyawallstreet.com, Techweez.com, Techmoran.com, Potentash.com, Kaluhikitchen.com, Bikozulu.co.ke and Ghafla.com have done very well for themselves. But we have to understand that blogging is a relatively new concept in Kenya, and it only became a serious thing in the last seven or so years. At this point I would just say give it time.
8. Kenya’s blogs are scattered, meaning there is no way we can get to access everything being posted online. Is it possible to have a catalogue? Timothy Wasike, Nairobi
Yes. Please visit bake.co.ke. There, you will find the blogs listed as per categories, as well as the aggregation.
9. Who exactly is a blogger? Is it someone using social media, running a website or just irritating people? Timothy Wasike, Nairobi
Good question. The initial definition was simply a person who regularly writes material for a blog (website). With emergence of social media, the term has expanded and now include the people who use social media (micro-bloggers). But how you thought “irritating people” should be included there is beyond me but most bloggers are fine and wonderful people.
10. Only Safaricom seems to have established a rapport with bloggers, often inviting them to its events. Few other companies do this. What should Kenyan bloggers do to be taken seriously?
Alfred Ombasa, Nairobi
Blogging and bloggers are part of the media, and the success of the media is always measured based on the number of people the media organisation can reach at a given time. So the answer to the question of what to do is simple: increase your reach.
I think Kenyan bloggers are already being taken seriously. As somebody who has been around for a while, I think this was a question back in 2010. As far as I can tell there is no company in Kenya who would host a major event without inviting bloggers and this you can confirm with the PR firms.
11. Winning an award at Bake often appears to be something that only a few people celebrate; as if most Kenyans do not even understand what it means to be declared the best blog. Are there strategies in place to make more Kenyans aware of Bake and blogs in general? Alfred Ombasa, Nairobi
Blogging is relatively a new concept in Kenya, and in many places people still ask me what blogging is. So that is something that we are working hard to change. We have done a number of training across the country and we will continue to do so.
Bake Awards is one of the ways that we are using to discover new bloggers and use the publicity that comes with it to reach more Kenyans. From experience, the growth of blogging is directly proportional to the growth of the number of active internet users. I don’t think that blogging is an elitist affair. From where I sit, it the easiest thing that one can start, you only need internet access.




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