By Mwakera Mwajefa
Each of the mainstream media leaders – Citizen TV, KTN News, NTV, K24 TV, TV47 & KBC – have promised the most comprehensive election coverage Kenyan viewers have ever witnessed!
Wow! But when you do content analysis of most of such media houses’ newscasts and semi-structured interviews you end up asking what’s the driving force behind their coverage?
Another question that comes to my mind: Is it the media logic or political logic promoting the unexplained horse-race narrative from highly stage-managed rallies or walkabouts?
The concept of media logic broadly describes the routine way in which media content is editorially shaped and structured while political logic refers to a need to form, take decisions on and implement policies and winning support in the battle for publicity, public opinion and in negotiations or bargaining.
So which logic triumphs over the other when covering competitive and transitional elections as being witnessed currently?
I know horse-race stories attract viewers on electronic media but at the same time they can contribute to more cynical attitudes towards politics – youth apathy!
However, a question that I don’t understand is why broadcasters fall under the spell of political actors’ campaign logic when reporting _gramophone_ rallies or _bubble_ skirmishes.
Why not ignore such rallies or expose the stage-managed nature of them?
Anyway, I am not suggesting that political actors should be marginalised with journalists interpreting their views – nooo!
What I am saying is they (actors) should be more regularly and robustly challenged over their individual’s and parties’ _spin_ _tactics_ in their campaign trails.
To low the heightening tensions and building animosities in different parts of the country, media organisations should sign pledges to a fact-based election coverage this politically charged year.
They (organisations) should focus on issues and not on personalities, examine aspirants’ track records, stand in solidarity with journalists being subjected to harassment and put voters at the centre of their coverage.
Also, the media should be committed to challenge baseless claims/allegations made by politicians and avoid amplifying falsehoods and hate speech.
Kenyans and voters in particular need issues and debates to be clarified not simply amplified!
In this year’s elections, journalists should be accountable to the public by holding each other to higher standards of impartiality, credibility and integrity.
The media should monitor vote buying, voter bribery, campaign spending and the use of public funds to win elections not always highlighting the Raila-Ruto see-saw mantra.
I hope the media will not report on opinion polls without verifying their sources of the polling data, the track record of the companies involved, the methodologies used and the questions asked.
And lastly, the journalists should put voters and the integrity of the electoral process at the centre of its reporting not the politicians or themselves!
Tupia hii post those concerned and tell them to be media not _jukeboxes!!!_