I am sure that you have seen them. They are the men and women who grace your TV screens as hosts or reporters and at the end of their so called ‘shows,’ you are left perplexed whether you just watched an episode of Tom and Jerry on Cartoon network or a political television show?
A show like ‘The Trend’ comes to mind. One minute the host is interviewing a leading politician and the next minute, he is talking about socialites! How the two topics marry each other remains a mystery to many Kenyans.
The point is that many journalists in Kenya are jacks of all trades and the end product is a sub par performance. Shows must be classified into different categories and given qualified hosts who must be subject matter experts to ensure first class delivery.
A political talkshow must be hosted by a political journalist who is well versed in politics and current affairs. A show like ‘the trend’ is hosted by an individual whose knowledge of politics is ranked from under the tables. Watching him attempt to interview a leading politician is excruciatingly painful. The loud-talking guy often asks irrelevant questions, never presses the interviewee with meaningful followup questions and downright leaves too many low hanging fruits.
Most guests look at his show as a walk in the park. In fact, some guests outrightly take over the show and often set and dictate the agenda. An absolute no-no in journalism. Its therefore not surprising that he finds it easier to interview comics and socialites than take on heavy-hitting newsmakers.
And when he is not on the show, he litters the social media with juvenile tweets like the recent swipe on the person of Raila Odinga. A serious Journalist would wait and book Odinga on his show and then ask the tough questions, not hurl insults from the safety of a mobile device.
This is a serious problem that must be addressed. Our journalists are quietly morphing into political guns-for-hire. Key events in the last couple of days have shown us just how incompetent or unprofessional some of them are. When a Citizen TV reporter, in the middle of the eurobond presentation, decides to ask the leader of opposition a retirement question, one gets the feeling that we are in serious trouble.
Get this; the journalist decided to ignore the real reason why he was invited to the press conference and invented his own line of questioning. To him, the most important national issue was Raila’s retirement. How these types of individuals became journalists is a mystery.
I guess the key qualification must be the good old ‘technical-know-who’ because our media fraternity is awash with mediocre individuals.
While I understand that some folks have the natural talent of fluency in languages and sometimes end up excelling in broadcast journalism based on raw talent, those folks still need professional training to polish and equip them with the requisite skills to deliver as journalists.
Eloquence is not a substitute for training and that is why we end up with mediocrity on our TV screens.
We have also seen women on TV showing more skin and bust shots than insightful content. Sometimes, its as if they are working in concert with the cameramen. Instead of focusing on the stage and the interviewee, the cameraman would routinely zoom in to the female presenter’s chest, thighs, face, and shoes as if she is a mannequin or a model. On cue, the presenter would also play along and start ‘working’ the camera! The upshot is a distracted audience and lost airtime!
We are in serious trouble and if something is not done, Kenya will go back to the days when the only ‘news’ on television was the presidential diary and itinerary.