By Silas Nyanchwani.
I am not the biggest fan of Miguna Miguna. For all his brilliance, he is too arrogant for my tastes. I know lately he has been taking a few for the team, especially serving it hot and raw to Jubilee, but like many Kenyans, I will soon side with a humble fool, than an arrogant intelligent man. May be I have a low self-esteem, but that is just me.
If I go to interview Miguna, I will brace myself for his tantrums that have a way of getting out of hand. If you don’t control him, you can easily get fired. Ask Jeff Koinange. His remarks about Passaris last time, regardless of the provocation crossed the line.
Larry Madowo, is one of the most industrious and devoted guys to the craft of journalism. But he suffers one thing that has become a problem increasingly since the turn of the millennium and part of the reason, journalists have lost respect over the years.
He always wants to be the centre of the story, which is very anti-journalistic. As my friend Boni Mwalii said a while ago, when Larry wrote something about himself.
“This kind of egotistical journalism is what ails Kenyan media. For a fellow who touts himself as the foremost authority on all things journalism to declare that he deliberately ignores the opinions and/or criticisms of the people to/for whom he reports demonstrates how self absorbed Kenyan media has become.
Quick, get this guy a mirror so he can stare at his manicured ego as it bursts out of proportion,” Boni Mwalii wrote a few months ago.
I teach a newswriting class in a local university and the first few weeks, the first thing I hammer into the kids is that you can’t use the first person point of view, because you are not supposed to be the news, unless under exceptional circumstances. And there is good reason. The business of journalism is serious business. There is a reason news writers’ bylines are so small, sometimes invisible. So that you can remember the story more than you can remember the writer.
One of my favourite publication is the Economist. The Economist since time immemorial, established editorial anonymity, all their stories don’t carry bylines. And those that do, don’t have individual names of the writers, but rather use symbolic names such as Bagehot (named after Walter Bagehot) an English constitutional expert and one of the founding editors the Economist), who writes about British stuff, mostly political. There is Charlemagne (named after the Frankish Emperor), writes about Europe. Lexington (named after the a place in Massachusetts, where the Revolution war started in America etc.
Their excuse is that news production is a collaborative effort, and what is written is more important than who writes it, according to their site. While I don’t necessarily agree with the premise, I get the idea.
There are good TV journalist in the country. Mark Maasai and Ken Mijungu usually have a good temperament when doing their Press Pass. Linus Kaikai did well with the Inspector General.
There is a false notion that for you to be a good journalist, you have to act tough on tough people like Miguna, Moses Kuria or any lying politician.
No journalists receives more backlash, than Madowo. In his bid to be tough, professional and neutral, he often rubs many subjects the wrong way. He comes off as contemptuous, know-it-all journo which defeats the logic why invites the guests.
Our wish is that if only he can listen more, talk less, and act as a neutral referee, he can do better. One last thing, when I graduated from Graduate School, our class day speaker was Jorge Ramos (some call him the Walter Cronkite of the Latin-American). You can see a clip of him being kicked out of a Trump press conference before he could even ask a question. He is one of the best.
Ramos told us that there certain circumstances where journalists cannot afford to be neutral if you are covering someone like Trump, you cannot be neutral when people are being killed, oppressed, abused and wherever injustices are committed on a people. Madowo has in the recent past spoke as if to demean the killings of protesters (using the tired premise; they brought it upon themselves), failing to understand that it is the duty of the police to protect lives, not to take them.
Maybe, he can use a refresher in these things.
And please, if you can’t handle Miguna, don’t bring him to your show, for rates, or for his soundbytes or brilliance.