Many journalists who were affected by salary reductions and retrenchment during the Covid-19 pandemic took up side hustles as a means of coping. [Photo/ RAVE]
Many journalists who were affected by salary reductions and retrenchment during the Covid-19 pandemic took up side hustles as a means of coping. [Photo/ RAVE]

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:

Writing articles for sale
Small businesses e.g. Cereal shop, selling perfumes and selling items on social media
Selling stories to competitors
Venturing into farming e.g. vegetable farming
Poultry rearing
Online (article & academic) writing
Content sharing and marketing website
Freelancing as online marketer
Opening a YouTube channel
Starting a small company e.g. PR Agency, Marketing & Content Development Company
The Central region had the highest percentage of respondents who took up side gigs, at 38%, followed by Nairobi at 35% and Rift Valley at 30%.

READ>>>>>Inside Mike Njenga’s Multi-Million Side-Hustles [PHOTOS]

“I was fired. I spent 3 months jobless before securing another opportunity,” stated one journalist interviewed for the survey.
“I have been applying for grants and borrowing from family and friends to survive,” stated another.
“I had nothing to do to cope with the situation (retrenchment). I just had to relax at home and do the little I could in freelancing,” another respondent revealed, offering a look into the difficult world of journalists in Kenya.
Notably, media houses adapted to the pandemic in various ways, focusing on virtual meetings and digital reporting. Journalists, however, still faced challenges even in the work-from-home era including high data costs, out of date equipment and challenges in accessing crucial information.

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