Blame not Politicians: Rather, NTV, KTN, CITIZEN, KBC and Jua Kali Journalism
Biased editors to blame for spreading hate speech:The bill to silence social media for spreading hate is interesting. It is true that social media is a news network of some kind. However, I have a very big problem believing that this is the root cause of Kenya’s violence past and present. In 1992, there was violence in Kenya. Many people in Mombasa were forced to leave their homes in 1997. Others were forced to run from the rift valley. Social media? Nonsense!
The problem with Kenya streams from national “authentic” media houses that is completely un-ethical. I covered both the 2007-8 and 2012-13 elections. Many of the journalists in the field are very descent young people. The ones with whom we covered the elections were university graduates. They understood the need for ethical and factual writing. But many others roam the country carrying microphones and cameras like beggars looking for hand out from politicians.
When a news media like the Nation Media Group pays their foot soldiers peanuts when pocketing millions in revenue, it speaks loud about the problem. Many of these journalists do not have transportation to get to a real story. In order for them to come to your venue, you have to give them some money for transportation. This becomes an easy target for politicians with money to corrupt. Therefore, they provide reporters with a car, money for lunch, and some money to have a drink on the way home. Usually, they hand them more money to make sure they push for a specific story to be aired on the evening news!
Speaking to many journalists from all the media houses, they will confirm that their editors control the stories. These higher ups take the story and give it priority not on the basis of its relevance, but on the basis of whom they support within the political realm. Many of them also receive kiinua mgongo from politicians. Given that they are the ones calling the shots, they change the headlines and tweak the stories to fit their intended propaganda!
President Uhuru has on several occasions stated that newspapers are good for what they do after buying them: toilet papers and starting kitchen fires in the village households to make ugali for the family. I would not go to that extent but I would say that Citizen TV, NTV, KTN, K24, Kiss TV, KBC and all other media outlets in Kenya are the channels through which hate speech is broadcast nationally. They replay isolated incidences over and over again pretending that they are presenting the nation with facts. While in reality, they are spreading hate among their audiences! June 22nd 2014: The Daily Nation. ‘BATTLE LINES OVER DIALOQUE AS UHURU AND RAILA TALK TOUGH.’ It claimed, “Top politicians use Sunday meetings to dig in and set up an almost inevitable CLASH on July 7th.” Journalism? No! This is incitement to violence. The president called for prayers!
Many of those who have tweeter accounts, face book pages, and are always online are egocentric and bored maniacs who seek attention and self-glorification. But family and friends use it also for fellowship. To blame the social media for the Mpeketoni massacre and the wizi wa mifugo in Wajir is utter nonsense! Wajir residence are busy trying to find water to concentrate on whatsApp. Jesus told the Pharisees, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Mathew. 7:5)
No matter how sad Mpeketoni massacre, it was not national. There was no invasion in all other counties for the Jua Kali reporters to claim that there is a security epidemic! There is no epidemic in Kenya. Majority of the towns and villages are going on with their businesses in peace and harmony! Even the opposition knows this fact that is why they are holding meetings. You think they would hold meetings if there is no peace in the country?
We need to take the microphones and cameras from these rallies, send true reporters to cover real stories, and leave these politicians to speak to their isolated supporters. Reporters and their editors need to start following the stories not the money dished out to them by politicians. Take the LOG out!
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD) HTBluff Associates. @HTBluff