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Was Star reporter right to poke nose into Lamu senator’s bedroom?

It is never too late to do our job as mediators between the media and their audiences, or among the media itself.

So, today from our files, we fish out a quarrel between a Star reporter and Lamu Senator Anwar Loitiptip last month.

It happened that the reporter got wind that the senator had abandoned his girlfriend’s child.

And, like they say, the reporter ‘smelt’ a story. Which is fine, after all, the senator’s ex is the daughter of former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko.

So, our reporter calls the girl who unleashes a long list of accusations against the senator. And, as it should be, the reporter calls the senator for his side of the story – it’s called fairness and balance.

Then things start going south. For starters, the senator feels that his privacy is being violated; that the reporter has crossed boundaries into personal matters; that reporters ought to be asking questions about his senatorial work, not his bedroom matters.

Well, the jury is still out on this one. At what point does a mheshimiwa’s private affairs become public? Of what public interest was the story?

The senator points out that he is not the first mheshimiwa to have relationship issues and wonders aloud why he should be the first to be in the news for a relationship gone south.

On this one, we agree with the senator. We agree that he is not the first mheshimiwa to be caught up with a child support story – heck, some more senior waheshimiwas have been caught up in similar scandals.

Which brings up another question. We all know the adage that it is not news when a dog bites a man, but the opposite. So, in this case, was there a man-bite-dog angle? Exactly how big must the man that bites the dog be for it to be a story?

Is the senator right in arguing that he is being unfairly singled out on an issue that is not entirely news?

Finally, Star ran the story under the headline, “Lamu Senator Loitiptip threatens Star reporter.” Now, let’s look at the basic definition of “threat”: A statement of an intention to inflict pain, injury, damage, or other hostile action on someone in retribution for something done or not done.

But in the story, the senator simply vows to take up the matter with the reporter’s boss and take legal action. Does this amount to a threat? Does the Senator threaten to inflict pain, injury, damage or hostile action?

If someone calls me about a matter and tells me he or she will take it up with my boss, does this amount to a threat?

Perhaps the only threat here came at the very end of the story, where we are told that the senator sent the reporter a shilling via M-Pesa and a chilling message: “Star news reporter. This will be your last time poking people’s affairs.”

Now that, is a threat, and insinuates “intention to inflict pain, injury, damage, or other hostile action.” And should anything happen to the Star reporter, the senator must be called to account.

Still, we must give the senator the right to lodge a complaint if he feels that his privacy was violated in any way.

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