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November 21, 2018

LEON LIDIGU: Journalists are activists for the truth

The reporter's desk. /The Star
The reporter's desk. /The Star

At a time when regimes are determined like never before to confiscate the truth and clamp down on social media usage, journalism has to be accurate and infested with irrefutable facts that are tested and explained with all evidence checked out and verified.

Any smart news consumer irrespective of political affiliation should be able to understand that, like priesthood, journalism is God’s work.

Being a journalist at a time when a government is so much hell-bent on eating its own people is very strange and puts objectivity to test.

Activism

The media in Kenya in my view has never been a fraught as it is today.

I can’t help but notice that many trained journalists are prickly about being labelled an ‘activist’ – activism being viewed primarily as the domain of political parties, non-governmental organisations, and activists frequently dismissed as individuals whose ‘job’ is to protest.

Who exactly set these standards? A different logic appears to guide the profession of journalism.

In the interest of doing their job (dispassionate rather than passionate has become a qualifying hallmark), journalists are expected to keep a ‘safe’ distance from activists, not get too involved in the subjects they are reporting about, a dictum that often ends up producing disinterested journalists, sadly lacking in the curiosity and passion to engage fully with the world around them.

Will you continue folding your arms when the public is having important discourse on issues like corruption, 16% VAT on fuel among others in the name of protecting your ‘ brand ’ as if you are not affected by the situation?

Activism in journalism has a goal and ours is to ‘ inspire ’ healthy discussions on issues and help get practical solutions apart from being a voice to the voiceless.

Doing so will help us nip false perceptions and fake stories in the bud with nothing but the truth before the forest catches fire.

We are even shy of engaging in some form of activism whenever one of our own has been attacked in the line of duty as we have seen this week in Migori.

The other day we were quick to run and hide behind the legend that is Okiya Omtatah when the ‘owners of Kenya ’ decided to switch off main TV stations.

Are we like for real? We have moved into a dangerously volatile age where the meanings of terms like ‘activism’ and ‘activist’ need, perhaps, to be redefined.

Their implications today go beyond conventional notions of activism: taking to streets, participating in demonstrations.

News How I miss the long gone days when debates and news items were issue-oriented and not about 2022 in 2018 ..( sobs in anguish …..) .

I find it distasteful and sad whenever I see just how bad some of my friends on television are failing at this.

What exactly happened to brutal honesty? Mind-blowing stories rather than serving us what has been happening on social media every evening packaged as a bulletin? Our news should not also be centred on giving politicians ( who mostly tell lies ) credit and airtime to do it.

That is PR and not journalism. I have come to learn that lying always implies you’re intelligent enough to know the truth and do it anyway.

So stop it! The dragon that is fake news and post-truths in our media is still haunting us and seems to be winning.

So motivated by the fact that the battle against it is formidable and the warriors of factual news are giving an increasingly stronger challenge in every possible way with new journalism tools that technology keeps on gifting us every day.

We need to do more to help the public make sense of all the noise.

We need to be activists for good and ethical journalism in all front for our life depends on it now more than ever.

Leon Lidigu is a student of Journalism at Pacific University, India 

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