I recently had a spat with colleagues from mainstream media houses regarding poor coverage of Kenyan football in the print media. I will mention that things are better on the TV side of things. Two main media houses tried to push independent Sports Weekly magazines which wound up before they could fly. This is often cited as the reason why the local print media will prioritize foreign football leagues to KPL.
Media Houses are businesses that must balance books by end of the day. So it is understandable when the two media houses folded up the weekly sports magazines. The big question remains, can the media change public perception of a regular social event? This is a question that FKF, KPL and football clubs must spare time and sit with sports editors to answer.
It is cowardly for the mainstream media to throw in the towel that the market is not receptive to local sports content. We know the world over that the media has been used to change perceptions and transform ideas into global phenomenon. All it requires is strategy and great execution.
This will require great content contributors and off the hook graphic design and presentation. The content must also be strategically positioned and presentation simple and fun. The sports sections of our local dailies have become predictable and the difference in presentation between local and foreign content is evident.
We have good examples of African countries doing well in this regard, though I agree Kenyans are peculiar. Tanzania is a country where people follow foreign football leagues but their weekly sports newspapers sell like hot cake. One Tanzanian friend told me that they know their league is not all that, but they will hype it. When Kiongera left Gor Mahia for Simba, he was the poster boy for VPL for close to a month; he ended up with the nick name Falcao. That is what Kiongeragot in Dar-es-Salaam while he is as common as Nairobi traffic jam in Kenya.
South Africa is also a country we can learn from in terms of print and online media. South African’s love their football more than Kenya. This can be attributed to good organization and vibrant media that informs people even on the trivial stuff.
The secret is in working out a concerted effort from all stakeholders. When everybody knows where their work fits in the big picture, it will make them take their work seriously. Media houses can also leverage on their other resources as well. A lot changed in our football when Carol Mutoko screamed about our football and took time to sit on the concrete terraces when only a handful of fans watched local football. We can take another shot.
I believe we can change the tide; it is never about them (external factors) it is always about us.