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Keep opinion out of the news

On Tuesday, July 24, the People Daily carried a story headlined, “Raila divine political gift, declares Mbadi” (p.2) The ODM chairman and Suba South MP said Raila will be the party’s presidential candidate in 2022 because God has willed it, the paper reported.

“In what is likely to incite a political storm within the opposition and ruling Jubilee party, Mbadi who arrogated himself the role of seer, said Raila is the only leader with the right qualities to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.”

Now, that Mbadi arrogated himself the role of seer is not news. It is the opinion of the journalist who wrote the news report.

On Monday, July the Star’s splash was headlined “Not all Kalenjins are corrupt – Keter.” Of course.

“Keter sensationally claimed a politician called him and cautioned him against complicating the 2022 Kenyatta succession,” the paper reported.

Why is what Keter said sensational? Whose view is this? The reporter’s. It is not news but opinion.

The Star went on: “In a hard-hitting speech at funeral in Siaya on Saturday, Keter said some politicians steal from Kenyans as individuals then conveniently rally behind their Kalenjin community for support.”

Who decided that Keter’s speech was “hard-hitting”? The Star newspaper. Is that news? No. It is opinion.

Journalists report the news. They keep their opinions to themselves or share them on blogs and social media platforms. They can also publish or broadcast their views as opinion. But they must not weave those views into the stories they write.

Readers, viewers or listeners are intelligent enough to decide whether a speech is hard-hitting or not, or whether a certain claim by a politician is sensational. They can decide for themselves whether in holding a particular view, Mbadi or any other politician is arrogating himself the role of a seer.

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