In the fewest words possible: A Case for Kenya's "Githeri Media"

Pulse Editor's Opinion

A journalist covering a story during a past event in Sudan

"What a time to be a journalist in this great, beloved, our land and nation, Kenya!" said no journalist.

Why? Well, among other reasons, apparently school teachers are advising high-achieving students against settling for this line of work.

Point in case, the 2020 KCPE top student Faith Mumo Kawee told a reporter that a teacher suggested, given her prospects, Faith would be better served if she abandoned her interest in becoming a Journalist.

Another reason, possibly, may be this tag "Githeri Media" which is the Kenyan version of "Fake News". And just as its global variant, "Githeri Media" is the derogatory term thrown around when audiences are dissatisfied with a media report or personality.

Journalists and journalistic works have received such unwarranted gall that, I posit, we have failed to appreciate or retain perspective on the role it plays in society.

Who is a journalist?

Journalism is a profession like many others, among the oldest professions in fact. As long as human beings have existed they have obtained, documented and distributed information through various media.

Perhaps, more accurately, journalism fleshed out with the advent of the printing press. But this is not to say that the profession has not evolved over time.

Before we toss this "Githeri Media" term around, it would be prudent to ensure that the individual you're attacking is an accredited, trained journalist. The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) makes this task quite easy to do.

While we are on the subject, bloggers are not journalists. So, don't join in when an honest, hard-working Digital Journalist is casually called a blogger by a disgruntled so-and-so.

Digital Journalism is not equivalent to "blogging".

Journalists are categorized according to the medium they use; Print (newspapers, magazines, periodicals), Broadcast (TV, radio) and Digital (the internet).

What is the role of journalism?

Simple. We serve to inform our audiences. We do the diligent work of getting the facts together, adding context to the facts, highlighting what your options are and we leave the duty of making a decision to you - our audiences.

Journalists have, of course, sometimes missed one of the steps or been otherwise misled. And because credibility is the major currency for our profession, all journalists worth their weight in gold will always set the record straight.

What are the challenges in journalism?

Goes without saying that a free press is not the case in many parts of the world.

Independent press is also another ongoing conversation whose tenets are as valid as they are inconclusive. He who pays the piper calls the tune... and such.

Allow me to highlight one challenge that I find has been overlooked - a benighted audience. Most Kenyans want the truth, the facts, all the relevant information but at the end of the day, they do nothing or as we call it in broadcast, "dead air".

How should news be consumed?

The first responsibility goes to you as an audience member. Be selective about where you get your news. You owe it to yourself to be informed by an accredited media house.

At the news desk, we give priority to novelty, prominence, high-impact, currency and timeliness. Sometimes all at the same time, sometimes one and not the other.

Yes, we weigh all the angles to a story and lead with what we - in our unqualified opinion - deem to be most noteworthy.

Don't be a mere headline reader or headline critic; delve into the story, read between the lines, do your background checks, formulate your own course of action and lastly, respect a journalist and the work that goes into presenting a journalistic work.

Editor's Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and DO NOT necessarily reflect the position of Pulse as the publisher.

Happy World Press Freedom Day!

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