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Mediascape: What happened to proposals by media to BBI task force?

Someone needs to ask this question: Where were media owners, journalists and correspondents when the Building Bridges Intiative task force was collecting views from members of the public?

Yes, we have read the BBI report, and no we did not wait for Baba to read it for us.

There are only two mentions of the media, one recomending that the defamation law be amended to deny public officers a course of action where allegations are made against them in their official capacity regarding matters of ethics and corruption.

Like seriously? This sounds like giving every journalist out there a gun, and with all our crazy dealines, to give every journalist a gun would be fatal.

See, we live in a country where everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

And in a country where journlists are among the most underpaid workers who, sadly, have to chase politicians for handouts. To give a few journalist the licence to take this right away and freely act as investigators, prosecutors and judges in the court of public opinion must be a matter that needs serious discussion.

Freedom without responsibility is the prerogative of members of another estate somewhere on Koinange Street, and if any journalist accuses someone of being a thief, they must be able to get all their facts right. There are so many anonymous sources out there who will testify against Christ to any journalist who cares to listen.

Back to BBI and the absence of journalism in this important document. The only other line we remember reading on the subject was that “Kenya needs a media that uplifts us through investing in quality local content.”

Now, one Ezekiel Mutua would be forgiven for saying, “I told you so.” But that is all about our journalism in the BBI report.

Which begs the question: Where were we when Kenyans were talking about what they want changed? Does it mean that we, the media, do not have pressing problems that we would have wanted addressed via BBI?

How about the libel laws we inherited from the colonialists, which are crippling media houses?  What about the ambulance chasers out there who scrutinise the dailies and TV channels before calling someone they do not even know to say: “I think we can sue for a couple of millions on this story?” Even when the only mistake some poor correspondent made was misspelling the source’s name?

What about heavier penalties for guys who beat up anyone carrying a pen and camera? And guys who say one thing today and swear the next day that they never said it, and that the media “cooked their own things?”

How about how to get rid of graft in our newsrooms? Yes, we did present our case before the BBI team but what happened? Why was it trashed?

Well, we are too busy covering what everyone else is saying about the BBI that we forget that we, too, have serious issues that need to be addressed by Bibi and I.

We have seemingly lost a very golden opportunity to tell our story, and make Kenya more media-friendly.

Maybe, some wag was right when he observed, and we quote: “In general, we have in Kenya journalists today who can produce up to 10 folios of banal everyday exhortations by this or that minister (or politician) for unity among the people; journalists who come from international conferences to reproduce entire statements from position papers without intellectual response to these papers; some who see nothing wrong with a politician or administrative official stressing the importance of hydrogen dioxide to human life; many who bother little to examine (the library) to acquaint themselves with the background of a story before they rush to cover a press conference or to interview some personage, with the result that their story begs more questions than it answers.”

And right there we have a brutal indictment of our journalism. File your story and go home. We call this a journalism without a conscience. And the wag, is Philip Ochieng.

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