An incubation to improve SJC students’ learning experience

Yann Gwet, a lecturer at School of Journalism nd Communication (SJC)

In a 2016 OpEd for the digital media company “The Information”, analyzing the changes in the media landscape, Jim VandeHei, one of co-founder of “Politico” and the current CEO of Axios, wrote:

“In coming years, the revolution will likely demolish much of what we read and watch now. State and local newspapers and TV? Gone. Their models are fatally flawed. General interest magazines such as Time and Newsweek?Gone or unrecognizable shells of their former selves.Traditional TV and cable? Shrinking and scrambling. Click bait machines such as Gawker, or Ozy, or Mashable? Gone or gobbled up by bigger players.

At the same time, the need for content, especially (but not only) video content, will explode. It will be a mad rush that makes the 1980s’ race to create new cable channels seems like a leisurely stroll.

The pipes for distribution of content are mostly set. Facebook, Amazon, Google and Snapchat will be joined by the savviest traditional media companies such as Comcast and new media players, most notably Netflix, Apple, Vimeo and others.

Those pipes need content. And that content has to attract loyal audiences willing to cough up money to watch it—or more likely watch it, listen to it and read it…But with time, the demand for loyalty, uniqueness and durability will shift the emphasis to higher quality”.

The reality that VandeHei is portraying may not apply to Rwanda or Africa, but the underlying lesson is valid: technology is leading a new wave of disruption in the media industry that will require 21st century journalists to rethink their work. Tomorrow’s journalists will have to understand the trends that are taking place in their industry, constantly update knowledge and acquire news skills, and be entrepreneurial.

To prepare SJC students to navigate this new environment, we have started KTOR (which stands for Kaminuza Star Incubator).

KTOR is a 6-month program whose short-term goal is to train and mentor journalism students who will take up leading positions in Kaminuza Star, and whose long-term goal is to provide further opportunities for SJC students to hone their skills, broaden their perspective, and get the tools to understand their industry.

The program kicked off on June 16, 2018. Six 1st year students, who were duly selected, comprise the first batch. Sessions are practical and involve writing and reading, debating, conversations with leading professionals, leadership and business skills, ethics and more.

I have often heard that SJC students do not read. There’s definitely some truth to it. Last Saturday (our sessions take place on Saturdays) however, KTOR-ians brought a 500 page book they had borrowed from the University Library: “The Governance of China”, by Xi JinPing, President of the People’s Republic of China, determined to read it. We shall see. But at least their willingness to do so show there is genuine hope.

Yann Gwet, is a lecturer at the School of Journalism and Communication(SJC)