The world is experiencing drastic changes and advancement in technology that is happening at a rapid pace. Technological advancements have given rise to digital skills that need to be learned and adopted. The global COVID-19 pandemic accelerated many organizations’ digital transformation, driving a need to rapidly up skill and re skill workers. Scholars and practitioners in the media industry argue that Digital Media isn’t about the internet itself, but rather about people’s ability to utilize the digital era, leveraging advancements and innovating with technology to re imagine how digital information sharing is done. The development of digital media has delivered innovations and prompted shifts in all aspects of journalism practice, scholarly research and the journalism industry at large.
In Tanzanian local context, digital media has not fully adopted to the modal of operating similarly to how the masterminds of Digital media apply it to journalism instead, Tanzanian journalists have embraced digital innovation by trying to push in the etiquette of traditional media onto new media something which is limiting the possibility of exploring and navigating the digital media innovations.
Nonetheless, technical experts are still very few especially in newsrooms. Studies reveal that in Tanzania, approximately only 4% of newsroom staff are tech professionals. While Journalists and their employers differ on the specialized training needed in the newsroom, the most offered training is video and audio production. Journalists are eager and need more training on topics such as cyber security, social media content creation, podcasting, fact-checking tools and promoting work on social media. The gap in demand and availability is largest in using and understanding AI (artificial intelligence). However, the task of learning new digital skills can be daunting with one not knowing where to start nor have the resources to invest in professional programs, training and courses.
In recent case, one of Tanzania’s Regional Commissioner cited that she’d prefer only state-owned media outlet rather
than ‘shareable links’. The task now for Digital media is how to change the mind-set of this group to be willing to be part of digital journalism capacity building so that they can be reliable and dependable online content generators in a productive way that could benefit them as well.
Despite more people consuming news and information digitally, the future of journalism is still bright and journalists may consider a few things in order be able to address these challenges. First and foremost, great journalism matters, but how readers experience that journalism will matter even more.
Working with partners can also help journalists smoothly transition into embracing digital skills. These can include partnering with media outlets in the developed countries for opportunities to learn and exchange skills and ideas. A good example is the DW program for young journalists and other institutes or media organizations that are committed to helping developing countries reduce the knowledge gap.
Generally, embracing digital skills is paramount for journalists in Tanzania. However, to fully maximize on this opportunity, journalists should strive to up-skill and re skill their knowledge base to be competitive. The future is digital thus, we cannot shy away from digital skills.
WRITTEN BY MARY MBAGO
DIGITAL JOURNALISTS 2021/22
BOREHSA HABARI PROJECT