Popularity contests not the best when measuring level of development in counties

Many counties with popular leaders are doing so badly such that media endorsing them is very dangerous.

In Summary

•Many of the counties with the most popular leaders are doing so badly on the ground such that media endorsing them depending on third parties is very dangerous.

•Among the emerging threats to journalists theft in the country is the county leadership and local based political activists, and now to add hostilities from the residents, who thing media has become part of the gang, will be too much for the local based journalists.

 

Construction works underway at the Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium site in Kisumu
Construction works underway at the Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium site in Kisumu
Image: FAITH MATETE

The credibility of journalism and level of trust is highly contested when media relies on third parties to document history in the form of news.

While media reporting of opinion polls, largely perceptions on a number of public interest issues in Kenya has made some progress, it’s very problematic to use such popularity contests in the realm of assessing development in the country.

More seriously when its made to gauge level of impact of devolution; while a good intention and the tools might meet international standards, when media uses such perception data to assign rate of development levels on counties, in countries like Kenya, where media and information literacy is in infancy, media credibility suffers.

While constructive and development journalism is encouraged and the new normal, depending on third parties on such sensitive national issues, where in some cases the other peoples analysis is not very objective is taking chances.

It is the same reasoning that during elections, we have been advocating that media work as a team and have independent joint tallying and documentation of the polling processes, and not entirely depend on what is announced by the officials from electoral officials. Access to original information to such issues of national importance is critical.

While the Country has a law on reporting political opinion polls; the publication of electoral opinion polls Act of 2012, which has elaborate requirements for the publishers including the media, the guidelines on popularity contests and or relating to development is available, and the media uses its discretion. The media can use the data to verify and do in-depth stories/ use the data as tips to stories but will falling into a credibility trap, to use such without question. The recent poll by a pollster has seen various reactions and allegations, and dents on media that splashed the perception survey verbatim.

In some counties, a number of residents were shocked about the ratings. In fact some areas, even local based journalists were left in stitches. Away fro the disadvantaged associated with the much discredited parachute journalism, such relying on information collected by others exposes the local based journalists to safety concerns; the local residents think the media is colluding with the county chiefs to steal from them.

Many of the counties with the most popular leaders are doing so badly on the ground such that media endorsing them depending on third parties is very dangerous.

Among the emerging threats to journalists theft in the country is the county leadership and local based political activists, and now to add hostilities from the residents, who thing media has become part of the gang, will be too much for the local based journalists.

With political opinion polls, the law requires that such polls should be carefully examined before they are used because poorly done surveys pose a danger to the democratic process in the country.

The laws says that when reporting on opinion polls, the media/journalist should carefully interrogate them to establish their credibility, reliability and validity, provide background and context of the polls; Only cite surveys produced by professionals who follow rigorous and transparent, distinguish between poll findings and a pollster’s interpretation of poll results among other stringent requirements.

The World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR) and the Publication of Electoral Opinion Polls Act (No. 39 of 2012), the media/journalist should be guided by the following questions in determining the credibility of the survey; who commissioned and conducted the survey, who paid for it and why, what geographical areas were covered, what was the sample size, how representative was the sample, sampling methodology, response rate, questions asked, caliber of staff involved, period of time, margin of error and results.

While some counties have and are doing very well in terms of development interventions, the frustrations by residents in terms of missed opportunities is very real, and first hand monitoring and documentation of what is happening is the most professional thing to do.