Not so long ago, Kenyan journalists had little chance of getting an assignment in a foreign country entirely financed by their employer. Media companies even killed some stories that required local travel. International trips were mostly facilitated by corporate entities. There is a big chance of the resultant news story failing the neutrality test. So, corporates one, Kenyan sports journalists nil, audiences lose.
The immediately perceived or active danger, when support to cover a story is externally sourced, is that the integrity of the coverage may get compromised from the onset, since any sniff of negativity is likely to be consciously or subliminally snuffed out.
Their seems to be a persistent sense of indebtedness to the benefactor, and with it, comes the neglect to be critical of any observed shortcomings, in the past, presently and even in the future.
And that's the buy-in for the sponsor!
It is for a good reason that some media houses have gone to the extent of expressly forbidding their journalists from receiving gifts from newsmakers, or even accepting practical facilitation like getting a lift from a politician, to get to a venue.
But let's be real. Hardly any newsroom is immune to the allure of press junkets.
That said, there needs to be some semblance of even subtle attempts to remain independent.
Splashing praise-song-hero-worshipping-court-poetic-spoken-word-thank-you-note dropping articles all over the sports pages...is outrightly selling out.
The next time you try to sell a sports story about your 'honorary patron' the reader may not buy the spin.
Corporates One...Kenyan Sports Journalists Nil...Audiences Lose!