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9 unwritten rules of being a news anchor in Kenya

Being a news anchor in Kenya is not just reading the news on TV, but requires a unique combination of skills, knowledge, and personality traits

A collage of Jeff Koinange, Fridah Mwaka, Ken Mijungu and Yvonne Okwara

From staying informed and authentic to connecting with their audiences and embracing the unexpected, here are some unwritten rules of being a news anchor in Kenya.

First and foremost, being a news anchor in Kenya means embracing the unexpected. One never know what might happen during a live broadcast – maybe there's a sudden power outage, an unruly guest, or breaking news that disrupts a carefully-planned segment.

In these situations, news anchors need to be able to think on their feet, stay calm, and adapt to whatever comes their way.

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One example is when news anchor Ken Mijungu tried to call his guest, Ferdinand Waititu who did not show up for an interview as planned. The phone call did not go through forcing Mijungu to move forward with the show.

Of course, connecting with the audience is also essential. Kenyan viewers want to feel like they can trust and relate to their news anchors.

To connect with the audience, one needs to speak their language (both literally and figuratively), understand their concerns, and be able to communicate complex issues in a way that is clear and accessible.

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This means staying up-to-date on current events, as well as taking the time to get to know your viewers and their communities.

This is why many news anchors have millions of followers on their social media channels.

In the age of digital communication, journalists also have to equip themselves with digital soft skills.

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Citizen TV's Jeff Koinange is among the most followed media personalities in Kenya, having over four million followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

At the same time, it's important to keep cool because the high-pressure world of TV news can get overwhelming.

But as a news anchor, one needs to stay calm, cool and collected no matter what's happening. It is important deep breaths, maintain a steady voice, and remember who is in control.

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This was particularly true during a recent interview between Waihiga Mwaura and Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa who had to constantly engage the politician who had taken an accusatory tone at him.

Another key rule of being a news anchor in Kenya is being a storyteller. At its core, journalism is about telling stories.

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As a news anchor, one should be able to craft compelling narratives that engage the audience and bring the news to life.

Whether it's reporting on a tragic event or a heart-warming human interest story, one should be able to find the human angle and tell the story in a way that resonates with viewers.

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Authenticity is also key. In a world of fake news and media spin, Kenyan viewers want news anchors who are genuine, honest, and transparent.

News anchors also have to be ready to move from one station to the other, as well as move from the media industry altogether.

This is because the media industry in Kenya is highly competitive and constantly evolving, with new anchors entering the media and current ones leaving.

As a result, news anchors are expected to maintain a high level of professionalism and adaptability, always ready to embrace new challenges and opportunities that may come their way.

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In addition to professionalism and adaptability, fashion is also an important aspect for news anchors in Kenya. News anchors are expected to dress appropriately and in a manner that reflects the credibility and seriousness of their job.

This includes wearing formal and conservative attire, such as suits or dresses, in neutral or muted colours. They should also avoid wearing distracting or overly flashy clothing and accessories, as this can detract from the news they are reporting.

However, there is still room for personal style and creativity within these parameters, as long as it is done tastefully and in line with the expectations of the audience and the media house they work for.

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