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Wednesday, 24 October 2012


Political talk shows, embellished with voter education undertones, are all the rage now in Kenya's media landscape. No doubt they play an important role. But great care should be taken by those hosting the shows. Make any undue value judgement and the audience will start looking at you questionably.

In a popular show aired on 24/10/12, for example, the guest was at some point addressed in racial terms. And he was told to his face that some of the problems of landlessness at the coast, were partly because of, 'you people.' 

He painstakingly had to explain that he is first a Kenyan, that his racial extraction was secondary, and I volunteer to add, immaterial in the discussion.

I have no problem with a little aggression in the talk shows but this has to be sensibly tempered. The choice of word must also not be tainted by prejudicial, stereotypical or derogatory insinuations.

And if, for instance, a member of the panel looks at the guest with a lens of racial, tribal or ethnic affiliation, that is the same lens the audience will start looking at the panelist with.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


Kenyan politicians have heightened their vote hunting strategies, with a General Election just months away. And the local media is now inundated with daily campaigning reports of the various aspirants. But is this 'excessive coverage' adding value to the electorate?

Yes. There is all that talk about empowering Kenyans to make an informed choice at the ballot box. That the media is being used as a conduit of the political ideas at play, which are then unpacked and 'formatted' for the consumption of the general public.

But how about the now near obsession of conveying 'news' about which politician is forging what alliance with which politician? How is it helpful to know which politicians were in a secret meeting?

In my opinion, the media needs to step back and let the politicians do as they wish in their individual capacities and only report on political matters that are of weighty significance to Kenyans.

It has become too confusing to keep pace with reports of politician A one day holding talks with politician C about defeating politician B in the coming polls, only for the following day to watch or read about politician B meeting with politician C, to strategize about joining forces to frustrate politician A.

In the end, it can very well turn out that politician A, B, and C all end up on the same side.

So, spare the audience the agony of trying to understand the plots and sub-plots of political posturing, in the build up to the next General Election. Let issues and ideologies dominate the coverage in the press.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


Many Kenyans have been asking for it. An opportunity to gauge the qualities and capacities of those seeking to lead the country after the 2013 General Election. Media houses have now set in motion plans for live presidential debates. But are the aspirants ready? Is the media ready?

Any presidential candidate not willing to participate will be seriously denting his or her chances with the electorate. But let it not be forgotten that politicians in this part of the world, generally, are not so mature professionally. (Will tele-prompters be allowed?)

Then again, there is bound to be more than two presidential candidates, (or can parties form pre-debates coalitions or do joint nominations to identify the strongest debater?)

And for the media houses behind this grand idea, which 'miracle moderator' will be able to satisfactorily lead the debates? And logistically, how will the issue of time management be addressed?

Small issues these are, compared to the greater good of empowering citizens to make a well-informed choice of their president. And the sample of views below, is an indication of the importance of this collective media project.

Thursday, 4 October 2012


What will it take for Martha Karua's presidential campaign to be accorded favourable media coverage? Is she not worthy of a slice of the prominence the press dishes out, disguised as objective coverage? And is it a coincidence that the leading politicians in the seemingly predictable opinion polls, also regularly get copious media attention?

On 30th September 2012, for example, majority of the politicians were captured in the media, selling their political agenda, which translates to 95% pure rhetoric, inundated with promises to do this or the other, if the electorate votes for them.

But Karua, the Narc Kenya presidential, was visiting the Pumwani Maternity Hospital. She not only gave a statement on the on-going strike by doctors, but also cleared the fees for some mothers.

Definitely, it can be argued that this was a calculated public relations stunt and the Kenyan media houses did not fall for that trap. But nevertheless, how can this noble act be relegated to a mere by-the way-mention, ensconced in a round-up of other 'weightier' political stories of the day?

I am not trying to agitate for fair coverage on behalf of the Karua campaign team. I am just pointing out my misgivings about how the local media is inadvertently propping up certain politicians, at the expense of others, on a not so objective platform.

It would be a different matter if, say a media house is to declare their support or endorsement of a particular presidential aspirant, and then proceed to give him or her coverage ad nauseam.

But it is foolhardy to do the same, while pretending to be non-affiliated to any political party, and still expect Kenyans not to see through the media charade.