A television news crew on a New Year's eve assignment, stumbles upon a gang of youths, daringly robbing people in the streets of Nairobi. The crew keeps the camera rolling and the next day, the story is in the main bulletins. Did the news crew commit any moral crime?
According to some people, it was unfair for the TV crew to have just continued to film, as people were being mugged openly. Here is a sample of some of the complaints about this particular story.
'Seriously, am a big fan of NTV but after watching that clip, I realised you are only after news and you do not care about the common guy that was being mugged! Your editorial team is heartless.'
'Shame on the media for enjoying the miseries of the common mwananchi.'
'NTV crew says you trailed the muggers for 30 minutes, why didn't you alert the Central Police and you have their hotline numbers? Only to show Kenyans you are working and can't help them. Shame on you.'
It is during the coverage of such stories that one gets to appreciate just how complex the work of a journalist is, how difficult it is to meet perceived expectations from the public, and how easy it is to be vulnerable to all manner of condemnations, for simply doing you job.
This is what one of the NTV crew members had to say about this particular story:
"We were actually on our way to film another story, when we noticed a gang robbing people in the streets. As we trailed them, we kept warning people to avoid going in the gang's direction and urged them to stop using their cell phones openly. But sadly, some ignored our advice. The gang was violent and we too had to think of our personal security and that of the filming equipment. We did try to inform the police officers on patrol that we came across, but it seems like they were a bit overwhelmed because the gang kept changing their movement from street to street."So there you have it. The team did it's best in having the welfare of those being attacked at heart, other than just focusing on the unfolding crime story.
This story, perhaps reflects the eternal predicament faced by journalists globally. Do you detach yourself from the suffering of the people you are doing a story about, or do you put your professional responsibility aside and be human first?