By Douglas Namale:
The media landscape in Kenya is tilting towards a dangerous slope. Journalists have given contextual journalism a back seat; editorial desks no longer value accuracy and objectivity. Anti- IEBC protests have seen the media fail the test of undue identification and authenticity. The same has replicated in the case of Jacob Juma’s alleged assassination, Eurobond, teachers strikes etc.
Article 37 of 2010 constitution provides guidance for the picketers. The article states “every person has the right, peaceably and unarmed,to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions to public authorities.” Despite the constitution clarity, media reports have ignored article 37’s key words, “peaceably” and “unarmed”, which form the foundation of democratic right to picket. The two words, “peaceably” and “unarmed”, shifts responsibility from police to demonstrators. While practicing your right to picket, you cannot malign other people’s rights to conduct their businesses. Looting, robbing, granite pelting and similar malfeasance do not represent the letter and spirit of article 37.
The media has resorted to slanting; police have failed the crowd control test, injured unarmed rioters, and killed others. How do you protect armed gangs, salivating for your blood, determined to optimize their art of robbing and destruction of property. It’s naïve to hear someone claim the cops opt to nub and arraign in court armed gangs masquerading as protesters.
It’s difficult to comprehend Jakoyo Midiwo’s loaded tone, as amplified by the Media; Kikuyus shot Luos in Migori, Homa Bay, Siaya and Kisumu. If the media cannot differentiate the basics such as Katwekera and Olympic villages, by claiming Kibera was a no-go- zone, when it’s just a tiny part which was violent, it’s difficult to deem them as trustworthy. This skewed coverage is what media ethics scholar, Ralph Barney called pragmatic deception. Borrowing Barney’s words, media is not interested in authenticity; their focus is to increase profitability.
The day Jacob Juma was reported murdered, social media went on frenzy. The opposition was crying foul, an “anti-graft hero” had been silenced by the bullet. Quickly the chorus was bought by mainstream media. As usual, the police endured the brand; they are assassins.
The “anti-graft hero” idiom contrived by the opposition and peddled by the media confirmed media’s inability to pass authenticity test. The purported anti-graft hero is the same man who was embroiled in the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) maize scandal in 2014. The same year, same man was entangled in Cortec Mining Kenya Ltd. licensing war of words with Najib Balala, then Mining Cabinet Secretary. How Kenyan media failed to connect the 2014 scandals involving the so-called anti-graft hero, a man known to be cockeyed businessman; remains a mystery. One can only conclude the media is dodging opposition’s card stacking, to avoid dents in their admiration.
Eurobond and teachers strikes
Eurobond appropriation documents are available at treasury’s website, and other banks that handled the matter. The media has opted to spreading deceit through call-in programmes, talk-shows, prime time magazines and print. No journalist has done a basic desktop research to question those peddling lies on the matter. Media’s role to educate the populace seems to be dwindling swiftly. Media’s inability to present facts as presented by both parties can only be interpreted to mean; they are playing marionette to propagate card stacking propaganda. Scandalizing the state.
Similarly, Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and Teachers Service Commission (TSC) signed a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in 1997 to raise teachers’ pay by 105% to 200% respectively, according to Legal Notice 534 of 1997. The least paid teacher P1 then was paid Kshs. 4227, today same teacher earns Kshs. 16,692, gross pay, according to TSC and Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) data.
But KNUT secretary General Sossion calls press conferences and presents lies TSC has violated Legal Notice 534 of 1997 and no journalist questions his glaring deceit. The trend of journalists directing microphones to deceitful characters and no questions are raised to question their smears, can only mean journalists are validating their deceitfulness.
The once decorated fourth estate is losing accountability battle at an alarming rate. Growth of new media as alternative news-sources is a real threat to the public’s right to get accurate, sieved information. Traditional media; once treated as biblical truth, now struggling between authenticity and accuracy issues. It’s time for soul-searching.