The other day I had a discussion with Phares (@kaboro) over the quality of technology journalism in the country. He rightly mentioned that some of the journalists who parade themselves as knowledgeable don’t ask the hard hitting questions when they go to press conferences or when they do radio and TV interviews.
To some extent I agreed and reminded him of a similar conversation I had with Michael Joseph, former Safaricom CEO. MJ had a point because there was a day one of the daily newspapers ran a front page apology and in it, they apologized for mistakes made in five different stories.
The two discussions seemed to raise one question: whose responsibility is it to make sure that journalists are well versed? Some say it’s the media house, others say it’s industry but I maintain that responsibility lies squarely with the individual. But journalists have not been very good at that, have they?
So, about a month ago, Safaricom decided to train journalists or should we say explain some of the technical terms and how they calculate the cost of calls. The session seemed to explain more about the price issue and why it was not ok for a company to lower cross network calls. The training was more of a progression of a session between Bob Collymore, Safaricom CEO and Parliament, when the costs started coming down.
I think it was a good gesture by Safaricom to invest in training; it’s usually easy for people to whine how pathetic tech journalists are but it’s another thing to take up the challenge and invest in training and ensuring that they understand.
Safaricom is one of the most criticized Kenyan companies online; from consumers to developers, everyone seems unhappy for one reason or another. But in this case, I think Safaricom should be recognized for taking time. Forget that media houses have the responsibility they rarely take up.
It would have been probably easy for me to post on how I think training on call pricing and effects on economy missed the point but on this day, Safaricom’s top brass took the time to come and explain some of the issues. I find it hard to understand that low call costs will negatively affect the economy; yes, the whole retrenching process never ends well but if companies are innovative and explore more revenue streams provided by affordable internet, then no retrenchment. That’s not the only point that was advanced, many were but that seemed the most convincing to me.
So, did the journalists become more knowledgeable? Well, maybe but there is no doubt that other companies who feel misrepresented in media coverage should step up and do something about it.