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Mediascape: The media and morality

I have no idea who spoke about removing the log from your eye before laughing at the speck in your friend’s eye.

But looking closer at the media, I have an idea what it means.

A lot of times, we have received numerous complaints from very honest Kenyans who think the Kenyan media has gone to the dogs. And no, it is not about the typos or sentences that start from here to Mount Everest.

We are not also referring to some of our news anchors wearing makeup that makes them look whiter than the snows of Europe (One observer said most of our news anchors are the real version of Clementine in Okot P’Bitek’s The Woman with Whom I Share My Husband.

Of course we do not expect you to know the poem: Like the majority of Kenyans, most of our journalists do not read! Which is a pity.

Back to specks and logs in our eyes, and the feedback we are getting from out there – honest, brutal feedback, about the mediascape media in Kenya

One, nepotism.

People have written to us saying most, if not all, of the people currently working in our media houses were hired, not because they were good journalists, but because they ‘knew someone.’

Our grapevine has it that to get anything done within our media houses, you must have the ‘right connections;’ you must know people.

Our grapevine has it that there are thousands of media workers out there who have been on  annual contract for years, whereas some ‘interns’ have quickly been put on permanent jobs and quickly risen through the rank, because they ‘know someone.’

Two, corruption.

Our grapevine has it that anyone with enough cash can influence the media; and no, we are not talking about brown envelops here – those are for ‘correspondents, poorly paid fellows that cannot even afford the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).

We are talking about big money, and big people. Our grapevine has it that there are ‘untouchable’ stories in our media, and which brings us to the third point in this week’s mediascape:

Three, impunity.

But let’s us not even go there: our mail list is full on that.

Instead, let us talk about ‘red carpet interviews’. Yes, you read that right.

It is probably the most hush-hush topics in the media circles, but sex for jobs and promotion is a hideous monster that we must confront.

Not just because it’s immoral and denies excellent female talent the opportunity to shine in our newsrooms, but also because it makes excellent female talent that worked through the ranks to the top face annoying stereotyping and sexism: She rose through the ranks because she slept with someone! 

Good people. Yes, we acknowledge that our media houses are largely family-owned businesses, but could we observe the basics of morality within?

Yes, those that write to us, say we have excellent policies on sexism and ethics. But, our country’s excellent policies, these remain just that: Well written brochures, papers!

Which brings us back to removing the log from your eye before criticizing the speck in your neighbour’s.

If one was to conduct an honest in-house survey among the lower and middle cadre staff in our media houses, pray, tell, what would stand out? The most corrupt, nepotistic, decrepit, sexist and generally, overrated institution in our society? Or the most progressive?

Or what do you think?

Send your views to the Observer. See you next week!

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