Journalists, like many other Kenyans, were hit hard by the far-reaching effects of the Covid-19 pandemic following the outbreak in 2020. The industry witnessed down-sizing exercises and wage cuts at leading TV, radio, print and digital media outlets on the back of dwindling advertising revenues.
A new survey from Infotrak commissioned by Africa Uncensored offers interesting insights into how the pandemic impacted journalists in Kenya and how they were able to cope. Interviews and mail surveys were undertaken with over 500 respondents being journalists drawn from 8 regions across the country.
4 out of 5 surveyed journalists stated that they had been impacted on a personal level by the pandemic.
58% revealed that they had been affected by salary reductions, while 46% were affected by mental anxiety and 33% had their job security affected. 19% were unable to repay loans, 14% faced Covid-19 infection and 6% were retrenched.
The data paints a bleak picture of a dire situation that many Kenyan journalists found themselves in. Many, however, were able to weather the storm by taking up side hustles.
40% of respondents noted that they started taking on side gigs as a way of coping, the most common measure taken, while 7% started a business. 19% cited getting support from family and friends, 12% began applying for other jobs and opportunities, 11% took loans and 7% were employed by other media houses while 4% of respondents stated that they did nothing.
The top side-hustles that journalists who faced salary reductions and retrenchment ventured into include: