BARUA YA BARAZA: Maya Misikir’s Five in 500
From the Curator’s Desk
This week, we’re introducing a new newsletter format: “Five in 500 .” It’s a brief interview featuring five questions for a media innovator to answer in just 500 words. This week I’m at Splice Beta in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Asia’s premier media start-up festival, and genuinely one of the most upbeat and generous conferences I have ever been to (and I’ve been to a lot)! At Beta, I spoke to Maya Misikir, a freelance journalist based in Ethiopia runs a newsletter curating the top news – useful in a country where the press is still quite state-controlled. Here’s her Five in 500:
What’s your innovation? Tell us about it, and why we should pay attention to what you’re working on.
My innovation is a newsletter called Sifter, where I curate (sift) the top 5 stories you need to pay attention to in Ethiopia. I am a freelance journalist who reads news and reports in English and Amharic so I make it easy for people working and living in Ethiopia to stay updated without spending a lot of time and effort. I go through the news, so now, they don’t have to.
What’s your top prediction for the most disruptive content format or storytelling technique African media will embrace in the near future?
I think that podcasts are the next big thing (or is it too late to say podcasts?). In Ethiopia, I see that podcasts are becoming more common and some are getting popular, and these are podcasts in the local language, Amharic. So, I feel think podcasts can be the next big thing but those in local languages will flourish because there are huge segments of the society that are not being served yet because of the language barrier.
‼️What’s the most exciting project or initiative in African media innovation that you’ve come across recently?
One initiative I recently came across that I love is Media Hack, an organization that supports newsrooms visualize and ‘tell stories with data’, as they put it themselves. I think it’s great because it’s a skill that can help journalists reach more people especially when you’re working with a lot of data. It can also be handy in drawing a map for instance when you’re talking about an area and it always helps the reader understand the story more clearly.
Can you share a quick tip or strategy that African media organizations can implement right now to better engage their audiences and adapt to changing media consumption habits?
Do surveys or talk to their audience in one way or another. Explore more ways to find out what their (changing) audience wants by asking them. I used to have a lot of assumptions about what my subscribers would want and make changes based on that but I’ve now been forced to face the obvious; asking my audience and getting feedback from them on my assumptions.
What’s the most underutilized resource or opportunity in the African media landscape that you believe has the potential to drive significant growth or positive change?
I think a good newsletter can really increase reader engagement for media organizations, and have a really big impact, especially for legacy media. It’s not common but it could go a long way if implemented well, but the way I see it often done right now is just as an extension of what is already being done, like a replica of the print edition of the newspaper, or any other product the organization is already doing. And I’m not just saying this because I run a newsletter!
I’d also be happy to share:
What I’m Reading: The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison’s first novel. Despite its difficult subject matter, it’s “a sympathetic and moving portrayal of human beings caught in the age-old webs of prejudice and hate, and for this alone, it deserves to be read,” in the beautiful words of this reviewer.
What I’m Watching: The Big Bang Theory (for the millionth time).
What I’m Listening to: The Read, a great podcast by two queer Americans who talk about pop culture.
Maya Misikir | Sifter
Baraza Creatives Series: Journalists Masterclass
Don’t miss out on the next Baraza Creative Series, the Journalists Edition! Join us for a Masterclass with renowned media personality, Willis Raburu, and unlock the secrets to success in the media industry from one of the brightest stars in the industry.
Here’s what you can expect from the event:
Learn from the best and elevate your creative skills.
Gain valuable insights on storytelling and multimedia production.
Connect with fellow creatives and media enthusiasts.
Date: 23rd November, 2023
For more information click here.