To all objective and fair journalists out there, I salute you for the matchless services you offer to this world. For the fact that journalism is not a very rewarding profession, your keeping in there must never be taken for granted.
Having said that, allow me address the other side of the divide. The section that makes the journalism profession smelly and somewhat rotten. The section that is doing the exact opposite of the rightful journalism calling. The unethical, biased and disaster-prone section of the media.
Those that followed the 2016 USA presidential elections will agree with me that from the word go; the American and global media at large was an ‘unapologetic-ally’ biased in its reporting. In the race, the media had both a darling and an unwanted. Hillary Clinton was for all the right and wrong reasons the darling while Donald Trump was for everything the unwanted.
The latter knew it and publically attacked the media for what was gross unfair coverage of elections. The bias never stopped with the media as opinion polls were equally bent more on the side of Hillary Clinton. From both the opinion polls and media coverage, it was clearly that Hillary Clinton would win the American elections.
However, something unexpected happened. Within hours after casting and counting votes, it was clearly that the unwanted Donald Trump had taken the day. Hillary Clinton and her campaign reluctantly conceded defeat as Trump was declared president of USA. While Trump triumphed, the media not Hillary Clinton was the villain. The Media was the biggest loser and until now, it’s yet to come to terms with what happened.
Whatever happened in USA in 2016, was supposed to be a clear lesson to the media across the world. But like many people out there, even most of the media players never learn.
In neighboring Kenya, a national election was held on 8th August 2017. Kenyans went to the poll to cast votes on 6 seats; member of county assembly, Member of Parliament, women representative, member of the senate, county governor and President.
Much focus was on the presidency. Just like what happened in the USA in 2016, majority of Kenyan media took sides. During the campaign period, most of the media houses in Kenya unashamedly campaigned for Raila Odinga and his NASA outfit while unfairly covered President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jubilee campaign.
From coverage minutes, to political panelists interviewed, majority of the Kenyan media was leaning more to the opposition side, even though they all denied this observation. The media then came together and organized presidential debates, with an alleged purpose of giving all presidential candidates and their running matters a chance to sell their agenda during prime media time.
Even though the debates happened, they registered little success, as majority of the players shunned them. The biggest names to shun the debates were President Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate, also deputy president, William Ruto. On their part, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jubilee outfit reasoned that the media had taken sides and thus Jubilee couldn’t take part in the debates. The decision by both Ruto and later Uhuru to shun the debates received several backlashes as many argued that, if the two couldn’t appear for a public debate then why would they be elected for presidency.
However, on their part, Uhuru and Ruto reasoned that instead of taking part in debates organized by the biased media, they would spend more time meeting and interacting with the 45 million Kenyans from their homes and places of work. This was later supported with live Social Media interviews in which the president would answer questions as asked by the people on Facebook and Twitter.
On 8th August, the Kenyan elections were held. The results as declared by the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) indicated that Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto had been re-elected by the Kenyans. In winning, Kenyatta garnered 8,203,290 votes (54.27 percent) against Odinga’s 6,762,224 votes (44.74 percent).
What happened in America in 2016 had now happened in Kenya. Uhuru Kenyatta won while both the Media and Raila Odinga lost.
Clearly, main stream media more than ever before needs to do some serious soul searching, if they are to remain relevant in the face of the surging influence of Social Media coupled with the former’s own misdeeds.
NOTE : As an update, Nasa has appealed UhuRuto’s victory in the Kenya Supreme Court. However, it is least likely that Nasa will have this election nullified as it doesn’t seem to have sufficient evidence if any for a strong case. Supreme Court will rule on this matter on 1st September 2017.
I rest my case!