Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Media Ruckus

Its not often that we write about the current happenings outside the sports scene but this issue pricked us and thoughts came pouring.
Last week Kenya marked 45 years as an 'independent' nation and on the same day, our mainstream media practitioners kept us 'informed' why the President should not assent the Information and Communications Bill (NOT the MEDIA Bill as they are telling us).
It's true our parliamentarians are not the most admirable guys and have not proved to be any better than previous lot. But when you start personalising some of the issues at hand, it shows the need for the media to be monitored and need be, regulated.
Late last year before the Elections, we all witnessed professionalism thrown out the window and most mainstream media clearly took sides and tried to outdo each other in the respective campaigns. FM stations even had hate campaigns drawing close semblance to the Rwanda situation.Come post-election and again we spiralled out of control.
It has not changed much in most of the published media, where by the headline alone one can tell the editorial policy's leanings of the paper. You and me even shun some of these papers because you know unless they are throwing vitriol on one or the other politician/businessman/prominent personality, they are busy cooking up schemes and rumours which might not even see the light of day.
I don't know the Communications Minister S. Poghisio personally nor his PS Mr. Bitange Ndemo but in my view they are some of the more distinguished people working in the Ministry.
Back to the media and its love-hate relationship with the politicos, its a known fact that some of the editors and journalists are in the payroll of the same politicians they are now trying to demonise. They put a good word for their respective 'bosses' and cover them extensively even when a hen lays eggs in the coop at their farms. We also know how some of the radio stations have lost all sense of decorum and decided to air some prohibitive language, topics and music too. Some of us cringe when we board public means of transport and blaring out of the vehicle's speakers are the stations' presenters talking about this or that infidelity scandal or promiscuity in the family.
For ours to be a vibrant and independent industry, the media has to acknowledge yes they need certain limits and regulations and don't bluff us that you will self-regulate through the Media Council. It's almost the same way we are telling our MPs to stop being in charge of their pay packages. We know all too well that is impossible. (Remember the same Media Council was to act on its members who violated the code of conduct during the Elections - your silence's rather loud on this one).
And true maybe some of the measures maybe punitive but that's better than paying the price of over 1000 lives of innocent beings.
And to the population, not everything you see, read or hear is true. Some of these are in existence for commercial purposes. SO objectivity and accuracy maybe lost every so often. Better learn to get your facts right and read widely too.


Next time you plan a protest, I think a boycott and black-out will make more impact. Let's not humour ourselves against Government machinery.
More insight on the ICT Bill and media responses ,read this.

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