Thou shall not interfere with the freedom of the media is the only command that has no promise. If it has, I got it wrong.
A few days ago, I was listening to one of my favorite radio station, NPR (National Public Radio), a Washington based privately and publicly funded news station. Of course, I wanted to receive news as they happen before they are no longer new to the World. If you have had a chance of listening to NPR, you will perhaps agree with me that unlike in Kenya where we are classically conditioned, NPR will air news and events as they happen.
The whole thing reminded me of synthesis of canons in my Language in broadcasting class. So far, apart from Radio Taifa, Sauti ya Mkenya famously known as KBC Idhaa ya Taifa, ask me and I will confirm to you that NPR is the radio to tune in. What does your favorite radio, TV and or Newspaper feed you with? I couldn’t concentrate any longer. What occupied my thoughts thereafter was a reflection of the place of media in Kenya.
In the Beginning
If you fall in my age cohort, slightly younger and older than I am and you happen to have been brought up in a rural area of Kenya, then you will easily understand this.
The period during which KBC radio dominated the media industry in Kenya could be the very same that the majority of Kenyans curse to date. But it is during the end of the period that left the same majority misinformed, semi-informed and over informed with the wrong information. The end of media sanity and an onset of misuse of the longed freedom of the media.
Maybe, there was a change in the content of what characterized the structured programs of the state owned and controlled media house. Currently, the media industry in Kenya has over 126 radio stations, over 10 TV stations and mushrooming print media before the definition of journalism includes internet and other smartphone apps soon. All of them after profit and self-actualization with little to offer to the public as KBC did and still does.
Ethics of Journalism
Today, the canons of journalism, as some of us would agree while the majority differs for the obvious reasons, credibility, Independence, Sincerity/Truthfulness/Accuracy, Impartiality, Fair Play, and Decency are not part of the ingredients of majority of the modern media houses in Kenya. You can always predict what to expect at news hour, politics, killings, corruption, name them. What they want to say but not really what the economy has in store to offer.
Consider a topic on education. There is no mention of it at all, unless you are listening to KBC or a classified ad. Did you hear about climate change, societies or a group of women forming a CBO? You must have tuned to KBC if you ever did or unrelated events that happened to have taken place accidentally within these set-ups. Could be that the university of Nairobi students were demonstrating over a delay of their students loans, pope Francis could be visiting Kenya and the only available place that could hold a 200,000 congregation happened to be a university’s play grounds.
Apparently, most topics you are likely to get are sexual oriented, fashion based, technological competition, the recent model of range rover, enhe, the list is endless.
Old is Gold
Tune to most stations in the morning, perhaps, you know the content therein. Portraying a negative image of marriage and making you believe how unpractical your marriage is likely to last. You are not in the wrong place, I have an alternative, tune to your local language radio, are you satisfied? Not really, sycophancy dominates. But remember there is a Swahili station you have not visited for long. Did you get its frequency? If you did, what were they discussing?……piga simu usikike…. Nambari ya arafa ni…… toa maoni yako…… je, ulinunua simu yako ya kwanza linin a ilikuwa ya aina gani? You are pissed off, you got no alternative.
Remember this, you are the one who left KBC and cursed it. Its gods are still alive and many did not leave while you left. Its frequency are still the same, watangazaji ni wanao ujuzi tosha, rudi nyumbani. 92.9 fm is what you nare missing. Join me as we listen to Bonnie Musambi, Cynthia Anyango, Bw. Leonard and many more in our mother radio. Get the best of the news. Be refreshed with Rhumba matata.
If you need food for the soul, tune in to Truth fm Hope fm and many more…
Journalism is defined as, the activity or profession of writing for newspapers or magazines or of broadcasting news on radio or television.