Sunday , 30 June 2013

Journalists’ right to information now guaranteed


As the media and the country await legislation on the right to information, a judge in a recent case has given direction as to who can access any information held by the State. High Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi ruled in a case in which Nairobi Law Monthly Limited, publisher of the Nairobi Law Monthly, had sued energy producer KenGen to release all information related to contracts it had awarded to two Chinese companies.

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Media coverage of ruling on presidential poll petition timid

SUPREME-COURT-MAR-24After the hotly contested General Election nothing captured the collective imagination of Kenyans like the presidential election petition.

Within hours of the start of the Supreme Court hearings legal jargon like Amicus curiae (friend of the court) and others entered the Kenyan lexicon. But just as fast after the initial ruling, the interest quickly dissipated and the disaffected Kisumu Cord supporters’ lamentations and use of the Luo word donge (isn’t it?) quickly kicked the Latin legalese to the backburner. Read More »

The future is bright for health journalism

t_iStock_000014166788SmallOne of the first lessons I learnt as a young journalist is that readers place a premium on stories that have a direct impact on their lives. I believe health stories are at the top of the ladder in that regard.

Health determines the ability of individuals to enjoy life and realise their hopes as they contribute to society. Read More »

Copy and paste journalism thrives in Kenya

The coverage in the Kenyan media of a recent study on fake tuberculosis drugs that was published in The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease was a depressing read.

It revealed to me how media outlets rely on cut-and-paste reporting: repeating the same stories from international media outlets and agencies without making an effort to contextualize the information or get the views of local experts. Read More »

Likes and votes: social media following is a terrible way to judge political contests

TwittervsVotes The just concluded General Election in Kenya was one of the most contested elections in the country’s history.

The ‘battle’ was fought on multiple fronts: from traditional door-to-door vote hunting to flying choppers branded in different coalition colours, to the manifestos, to traditional media, and not to forget, the social media. Of all these fronts, social media stands out as the one field where, regardless of the candidate’s actual popularity or depth of purse, one could compete. Read More »

Doves and blood: The mis-coverage of Kenya’s General Election

2013-03-04_kenyaelectionsMy most enduring impression of the foreign media in Kenya was formed during my adolescence. The assassination of J.M. Kariuki, the war and subsequent occupation of Uganda by Tanzanian forces, the death of Jomo Kenyatta and the attempted coup of 1982 will forever remain in my memory. These events ingrained in me the belief that my grandfather’s transistor radio was the only source of credible information. You see, my grandfather to whom I was close, loved his transistor radio and was a keen listener of BBC Swahili Service. Every evening at 6.30 pm, I joined him to listen to world news from the only credible source. Read More »

Media Council sets up hotline for journalists

On 20 January, two journalists of the Nation Media Group, Dennis Okeyo and John Otanga were physically assaulted by General Service Unit officers while they were covering the riots in Kibera. The officers confiscated their camera memory cards. Two days earlier, journalists from Royal Media Services were denied access to the Moi Avenue Primary School polling center where TNA party nominations were taking place. The media house’s owner S.K. Macharia is supporting Cord party presidential candidate, Raila Odinga.

These are just two cases of violence against journalists. After recording 16 incidents of media harassments this year, the Media Council has even established an emergency number 0724346744 to assist journalists facing danger. Read More »

What if Kenya’s presidential debates were in Kiswahili?

Professors of Kiswahili at the University of Nairobi have challenged the organizers to conduct the second presidential debate in Kiswahili.

They say the organizers ought to consider the change because Kiswahili is recognized in the Kenyan Constitution – alongside English – as one of the official languages of Kenya.

But English enjoys popularity with the political class especially in conducting official functions. During the official clearance of presidential candidates by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), for example, the function was conducted exclusively in English. Similarly, parliamentary debates and court proceedings are more often than not conducted in English. Read More »

Ways to depict sensitive subjects in photography

Kenya’s Government spokesperson Mr Muthui Kariuki recently complained about a photograph that was carried in one of our dailies, The Star. In an open letter to the Media Council of Kenya that was also posted on his official facebook page, he disapproves of the publication of a graphic photo of a dead woman and her baby in the paper. The same image was used in a blog.

Muriuki’s main concern is that the image is disturbing. “As the Office of Public Communication and Government Spokesperson, we are extremely disturbed and concerned by the picture of a dead mother and child carried by The Star as it depicts Kenya to the global community, as a nation of savages who do not care about human life, especially the lives of women and children.” Read More »

The trouble with twitter and Kenya’s democratization

3811669178_10a5c1e5afDuring the just concluded acrimonious party primaries Kenyans set twitter on fire.

The gridlocked twitter traffic happened after The National Alliance party nominations for the Nairobi Governor seat were decided. The contest pitted the former Embakasi parliamentarian Ferdinand Waititu against money-market magnate Jimnah Mbaru.

For at least five hours, the #Waititu was trending globally which set a precedent for Kenya. This after many contributors on twitter made fun of the prank of having Waititu as Nairobi gubernatorial contestant.

As it turned out, Waititu, a hardened street politician who has in the past been involved in violent activities, including raining stones on people publicly, trounced Mbaru, a suave businessman and the darling of Nairobi’s tweeting crowd. Read More »