Wednesday, February 3, 2010

KENYA MEDIA SHOULD BE BALANCED IN COVERAGE

I concur with the Buddhist wisdom, which states that those who seek the path to inform others must first remove all ego, dishonesty, manipulation, biasness, favouritism, cleverness, and in contrast humbly be willing to accept the light of truth no matter how big or small it is since it affects the entire humanity.

This is a wake up call to all members of the fourth estate in Kenya, whom despite being endowed with professional expertise to educate and inform the Kenyan people, have deviated from fairness, focussing and covering the more critical issues and challenges that face the Country. We cannot underestimate the role the media fraternity has played to highlight issues of insecurity in the Country especially the Mungiki menace, sexual violence as well as the AIDS pandemic.

However, there is a growing trend by the same media, which is not in tandem balanced and fair journalism. The paramount key issues, actual facts, needs, challenges and aspirations of the Kenyan society are never given consideration.

 Big or small as the Buddhist wisdom reminds us, if it affects the human race, it MUST be brought to light since it’s out of this, that people will get a chance to be informed and if it’s a problem, workable solutions can be found. For the Kenyan print and electronic media to consistently and persistently continue to focus on what politicians say and not what they do or have failed to do for the electorates who gave them the mandate to Parliament is not a fair game for the Kenyan people across the board. Surely, splashing television screens and newspaper headlines with politics and political personalities even when what they’re talking about is not relevant will never help Kenya.

However, I don’t mean that the media should not cover issues of political nature especially in this electioneering year. Indeed, Kenyan voters will love to see the media prepare a highlighted and well researched score card based on the performance of the current government and sitting Members of Parliament since they were elected in 2002. This is the surest way to put to light the failures and achievements of these leaders in order to give the Kenyan voters a chance to weigh options for retention or change of leadership.

We acknowledge that any business entity’s primary objective is to make profits; this has negatively driven the media to focus their attention on giving coverage to those who will only make their stories sell; a wrong yardstick especially if we want our Country to discover talents based on diversity from her citizens. It should be understood that even without fame, if the ideals one stands for are salutary the general good of this Country, the media MUST cover it.

The best ideas are out there and the media should dig deep and explore it. Those who are rarely heard can have a lot to share with Kenyans and the media should give them a chance. I recently walked into one of the famous FM radio stations in Kenya to request for participation in one of their programs but I was shocked with the response I got.

I was treated without decorum just because of lack of name recognition; given an e-mail address of the program moderators, which I emailed immediately. Surprisingly, you can guess? Kenyans expected our journalists to put more light to the key Problems facing majority of Kenyans like unemployment, increased cost of living, poverty, unbalanced development trends especially in marginalized parts of Kenya like North Eastern and some parts of the Rift Valley provinces, falling education standards, poor working conditions to those in the labour market.

 Indeed, it should be understood that every problem no matter its magnitude should be given due attention, investigation and coverage. Who will get offended in Kenya when our society’s inequities are ventilated before the Kenyan masses even the World? Who will get offended when the plight our brothers and sisters in the job market especially in the Export Processing Zones (EPZ) in Nairobi and Mombasa working under the most inhuman conditions are brought to light before the eyes of Kenyans?

This is the only way the media can put to shame their unscrupulous employers who continues to use them for their own enrichment. I urge the media to use their expertise to conduct intensive investigation on the working conditions of people especially in the mushrooming supermarket chains, plantation workers in Kericho, domestic workers and the (EPZ) outlets in the Country.

I am not a journalist by profession I was deeply shuddered of a story by two of my friends working in a famous supermarket chain in Eldoret where they are paid per week with no benefits. All workers are not allowed to join any Union or even a Sacco.

My friends say even lunch break is a taboo just for the simple reason that it reduces staff theft. Salvage our people from this ugly yoke! Come on Kenyan media dig deep into this! We live in the 21st Century where every Kenyan deserves a fair deal. Joseph Lister Nyaringo Bobasi, Kisii
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