Kenyan bloggers get their act together

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

Unlike journalists, bloggers have been struggling to regain a respectable position in the Kenyan society.

This is especially true because in the recent past some blogs in Kenya were associated with the murky business of sensational reporting and injuring people’s or businesses’ reputation.

But this is changing and blogging seems to be regaining a formidable position among the Kenya online media fraternity.

You may choose to refer to it as citizen or alternative media but the truth is, bloggers are making their presence felt and are shouting for recognition.

Their popularity can partly be attributed to its association that has been seeking to enrich local online content and to reward best bloggers in various categories.

“We aim to improve the quantity and quality of content online,” says the group dubbed Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) on its website.

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 http://www.blogawards.co.ke/vote/

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. 300 blogs were submitted and 10,000 people voted.

In a recent presentation at the Mobile East Africa Conference in Nairobi, Ghafla! (ghafla.co.ke) 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, Ghafla.co.ke now has an editorial team of 5 people who upload 55 pieces of content per day and 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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