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From incitement to Lithium’s death, responsible journalism wanted

This week’s trophy for irresponsible reporting goes to the Daily Nation for Stanley Ngotho’s story: “Leaders protest planned Kajiado rally” (online.)

Now, this one story that should not have been allowed anywhere near any responsible newsroom.

We will tell you why. Remember the late Maasai supremo Ntimama telling ‘foreigners’ in Maasai land that they must lie low like an envelope? Happens that the ‘youth leaders’ reported in this story were saying exactly that: That Maasai land belongs solely to locals. It was “we do not want madoadoa” repeated all over again.

Listen to this: “We want them (investors) to concentrate on business and leave politics to locals”, one of the youth leaders was quoted saying. “He said locals had not forgotten the dispossession of land that had befallen them to the benefit of some of the investors”

Now, if this is not plain incitement, then it is plain reckless reporting. The kind that stokes ethnic fires and should not be allowed in our newsrooms in this season of madness.

Publishing incitement only serves to spread incitement, and responsible journalists should know this. We learnt this from 2007-08 mistakes.

Then to the confusing case of a woman’s body stashed inside a suitcase. After the initial biased reporting that seemed to suggest she deserved to die for sleeping with somebody’s husband, we finally remembered that our job was not to write romance thrillers.

So next day, we found the woman’s identity. Only that the identity was confusing.

The Star: “Juja woman killed and stashed in suitcase identified”.

“Police said the family had confirmed the woman is Esther Wambui, 18, who worked at a local eatery as a waitress” Her husband, The Star reported, was a petrol station attendant.

But The Standard had a different identity. “The woman worked as a petrol attendant in Juja together with her husband”.

Next day, more confusion: Daily Nation told us that the woman’s husband was a suspect in her killing, and that he was the jealous type (read between the lines: that the man killed the woman). All this time the man had not even been arrested.

While DN was reporting from a police report, The Standard went looking for Esther Wambui’s husband and told us that he was distraught.  And that he was not a petrol attendant but worked for a mattress making firm.

Then there was the death of DJ Lithium and how we reported it. Look, until an autopsy is conducted, all unnatural deaths are suspect.

As such, The Standard was more professional, reporting that: “Capital FM’s DJ Lithium dies after collapsing in office”, and that: Capital FM DJ Alex Nderi, known as DJ Lithium, has died of suspected suicide”.

The Star already did an autopsy on Lithium and concluded he died of suicide: “According to one of his colleagues, the DJ cited family issues as part of the reasons he died by suicide”.

So did Nation online: “Capital FM’s DJ Lithium dies by suicide”.

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