Media must listen to feedback, act professionally

These are journalists working for media houses in Kenya, and obviously expect to be objective

In Summary

•They have continued unearthing massive scandals in public and private spheres, exposing human rights violations and contributing to holding duty- bearers accountable.

•Differently, a number of journalists have become a sore to the profession, and are making basic blunders that are bringing the media to disrepute.

Media
Media

Even faced with daunting challenges, most journalists have remained patriotic to their core calling as public servants and brought us stories of hope, Kenyans coping with the difficulty conditions they are going through.

They have continued unearthing massive scandals in public and private spheres, exposing human rights violations and contributing to holding duty- bearers accountable.

Differently, a number of journalists have become a sore to the profession, and are making basic blunders that are bringing the media to disrepute.

Its call to them to conduct themselves professionally.

“Mt Kenya dawa ya Deni Ni Kulipa. No Shortcut. Politics of conmanship should stop’, a journalist from a certain media house posted on his facebook page.

“Samoei just landed in Malava, Kakamega for a development harambee & church service. At least he doesn’t wait for burials to show up like Baba and others”, a tweet from another journalist read.

“DP should never be allowed near leadership of the country………” another one posted on his online page.

These are journalists working for media houses in Kenya, and obviously expect to be objective and be impartial while carrying out their journalistic work.

While they are entitled to their views and positions, I am not sure if expressing themselves publicly has any implication on their work. I am sure a number of media houses have internal policies to deal with such issues.

Then there is the breaking news culture, gambling and instant polls/questions done during primetime news. Obvious lies and unverified news items are released as breaking news while the instant opinion polls are manipulated and questions paused are to say the least pedestrian.

While the media consumption currently favors the online platforms, and many of the media houses now instantly relay news via these channels, its apparent that most have not invested serious in generating and managing content of these platforms.

In addition public culpability has heightened corruption in the media. Members of the public treat everyone who carries a recorder, camera, notebook and any other equipment is treated as a journalist.

Even people who should know are conned and made to cough out money in the name of seeking media coverage. We fail even to ask for basic documents such as Media Council of Kenya press cards, staff cards or even just asking to know where the many people claiming to be journalists work.

There are too many masqueraders in the industry and its becoming very difficult for legitimacy journalists to work.Then, even as we practice internal self-regulation of the media, the co-regulation media regulation model being done through the Media Council of Kenya, is facing industry acceptance challenges.

Media houses have over the years defied judgements by the Complaints Commission, do not appeal or action directions of the commission, and lawyers representing various media houses have turned the commission into another battleground for long arguments and adjournments. So long as media doesn’t respect the decisions of the commission, the thinking of self- regulation should be forgotten.

A number of media houses do not have public editors or any consistent internal complain handling procedures.While a number of accountability and professional related issues in the public domain are largely generated by people outside the profession and industry, including the legal challenges and opportunities facing journalism today, few in the profession are candid enough to share the internal wrangles, unethical issues and corporate afflictions that influence journalism practice.

The current instability and massive layoffs in the media in Kenya having got very little to do with professional production and redundancy as we are made to understand, but economically motivated that have everything to do with mismanagement, corruption and unethical business conduct by some media managers and owners.

Journalists are just being sacrificed. We cannot expect good and professional journalism work without investing and consistently paying journalists wages and salaries.

We cannot continue treating professional journalists with contempt, including employing and sacking them via sms, working without contracts and holding a attitude that says journalism is a talent not a profession, when guys have chewed books in journalism like anybody else.

The media must work towards creating solidarity and a common agenda for the media fraternity in the country to not only reduce the divisions in the sector, but ensure that media issues are part of the national agenda and the a conducive environment is created for the media to play its role in national development un hindered.More importantly, as media criticism takes shape and is welcome, Kenyans be aware that not all people carrying cameras, recorders and notebooks are journalists or work for legitimate and credible media outlets; many are mere cons and brokers looking for your money.

Press Conferences will be parked to capacity, fake interviews will be done and a number of sources will be asked to facilitate or“release” the “journalists” after those interviews or press conferences; but no stories will be forthcoming. Journalists’ work involves being a diligent purveyor — as trustee — of facts and information emanating from all segments of the society.

In each respect, the media is expected to be purveying in a patriotic way, information that is truthful and helpful to public accountability and transparency.This promotes checks and balances. Media must guide the debates within the professional lenses including taking responsibility and being accurate to avert misinformation.

The issue of corruption in media must be addressed and tackled immediately, since it has led to loss of credibility amongst journalists — and trust of the people.Journalists must respond to the issues being raised otherwise, we will have no profession to talk about- each of the players must play a role in dealing with the internal professional issues affecting the industry.

Crying out and blaming others, labelling other who raise professional misconduct in the industry haters or media managers feigning hopelessness even on management issues like paying their workers or shifting journalists contracts to refer to them as contractors, who must in addition to bringing stories must also bring adverts and other businesses must stop.