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In Kenya, a woman must kill or get killed to make the headlines

We will keep saying this until the cows come lowing back home: The media must start treating depression more seriously.

And stop sexualising it.

People who are depressed should not be shot. They need help. And the media must take up this narrative.

What did we do instead?

We pulled the trigger on policewoman Caroline Kangogo. And like all our stories about women, we milked her story dry. It’s only in Kenya where women have to do something dramatic to make the front page of newspapers or lead story on TV and radio.

Suddenly, Kangogo was everywhere – a ghost. Some woman going about her business in Western was shot by someone who thought she was Kagongo. We, Kenya’s media, pulled the trigger, or at least oiled it.

Kangogo is dead now. And we still would not leave her ghost. So, the Saturday Nation threw in a tantalizing headline: “Kangogo: Assassination or suicide?”

And on Sunday? “No cremation for Kangogo”.

Now, journalists are supposed to have sources. As such, they ought to know someone who knew someone to ask questions about Kangogo’s dramatic end – whether she actually locked herself in her family’s bathroom, put a gun on her head and pulled the trigger.

You do not need to be a rocket scientist to know that one plus one equals two, not eleven. All you need is learn what to ask and who to ask.

But what did we do instead?

We went for the drama, we went for the juicy, and we went for the sexy. In the end, we ran with the headline asking Kenyans to speculate – the very Kenyans that trust us to be their voices.

In the end, we traumatized a family: because, killer or no killer, Kangogo’s children, father, mother, brothers and sisters are not killers.

But we had to invade their privacy, and even ‘force’ them to ‘apologise’ for killings that they never did, just so we can run with a sexy headline. “Kangogo’s family apologises blah blah….”

In the end, we ran with what police said about Kangogo’s end, which is what lazy journalism is all about, and why this country badly needs investigative journalism.

So now Kangogo is gone, another cold case. And many more will go after we have milked their stories dry.

The media owes an apology to the women who must be shot or brutally murdered to make our headlines. Because ours is journalism that pays little respect to women’s stories, unless they have some drama in them.

So, now that Kangogo’s life came to a dramatic end, any serious investigative journalist would have, by now, told us how she died without regurgitating police statements.

Because journalists world over treat police statements with a pinch, nay, a spoonful of salt.

In our case, police statements are treated like Moses was, coming down the mountain with the Ten Commandments cast in stone.

Which is exactly why we get a feeling that some people out there laugh out loud on reading or watching our news. Because chances are, we reported what was fed to us. By them.

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