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NRG Radio’s Valentine poster crossed professional journalism line

By Dex Mumo

NRG Radio’s recent controversial Valentine’s Day poster featuring presenter Natalie Githinji challenges the delicate balance between creativity and professionalism in the media landscape.

The Media Council Act 2013 article 9 on Obscenity, Taste and Tone in Reporting states that “persons subject to this Act shall not publish obscene or vulgar material unless such material contains news.”

However, in today’s digital age, where every media platform is foraging for audience attention and engagement, the pursuit of creativity is quick to break set rules.

Social media, in particular, has allowed for the emergence of innovative content that challenges conventional norms and pushes traditional boundaries too far.

The NRG Radio poster, which they have since deleted, but its screenshots still circulate on social platforms, portrayed a conversation between a hypothetical man and Natalie Githinji about Valentine’s Day, raising eyebrows due to its highly sexualised nature.

One comes across a photo of Natalie Githinji lying on her back on the floor – presumably in a radio studio – her legs stretched up and crossed above her head. This position, despite being dressed in fitting blue jeans, outlined her private parts.

“Him: Unanipea nini Valentine’s kesho?” (What are you giving me for Valentine’s tomorrow? Natalie: (look up hand emoji)” read the caption by NRG.

Veteran radio journalist Fred Obachi Machoka, among others, took to social media to express his disappointment, highlighting the perceived desperation and cheapening of the profession. ‘The Retired General’ wrote that, “This is a sign of desperation, makes journalism look cheap.”

General public reactions reflect concerns about the ethical boundaries that media platforms should adhere to, mainly when targeting impressionable audiences such as the youth.

While creativity is undoubtedly a valuable asset in capturing audience attention and engaging viewers, it must be accompanied by a sense of responsibility, respect, and professionalism.

Media organisations must uphold ethical standards and consider the potential impact of their content on society, especially the young minds.

It is essential to strike a balance between pushing boundaries and respecting ethical guidelines that safeguard the dignity and well-being of individuals.

Critics argue that NRG Radio’s poster crossed that line, presenting a sexualised image that objectified Natalie Githinji. A blogger, Cyprian Nyakundi, wrote in response, “Women lead in objectifying themselves!”

The readers, without a doubt, emphasised the need for media platforms to recognise their influence and the responsibility that comes with it. At a time young people are easily influenced, the media fraternity must maintain a high level of commitment and demonstrate ethical behaviour.

However, it is also essential to acknowledge that the media landscape is evolving rapidly; social media platforms have opened new avenues for content creators to experiment and engage with their audiences.

Moreover, media organisations should strengthen internal guidelines and codes of conduct that emphasise professionalism, ethics, and respect. These guidelines can serve as a compass, helping content creators strike the right balance between creativity and responsibility.

The media plays a pivotal role in shaping values and influencing public opinion. By striking the right balance between creativity and responsibility, it can contribute to an engaging and ethical social landscape.

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