By Ameru Kaberia
I have always stated that the Kenyan media is the biggest enemy to press freedom in Kenya, they set the agenda, they are accountable to no-one, but they abuse that goodwill that Kenyans and the constitution have bestowed upon them.
The exciting thing about free media is how the equilibrium finally balances out. The modern day TV market thrived and flourished because KBC used to be biased. Worry not Kenyans because in the horizon I see a new media rising to replace the current dominant Right wing media dispensation that as we saw on tally night, is in bed with the status quo. Like every era in history, the wheel of change ushers in a new dispensation. The Kenyan wheel of change is unstoppable. It will overcome this tor mina tea cup.
Kenyans and the world have got eyes, and history will judge the current generation of media leadership harshly for being economical with the truth at a time when there are obvious and glaring perceptions that the elections were a sham.
5 years is a long time for a government whose legitimacy is in question to be allowed to have its way and sway. For how long will Kenyans wait for an election whose results are not only fair, but also seen to be credible?
For how long will Kenyans wait for the media to be free? Are individual journalists being gagged by top media house executives to write and report in a certain way? And who is to blame, is it the small journalist, or is it the top echelons of media executives? And were some media executives promised cabinet positions as widely reported? We will know in a few weeks if this is a top-down or bottom up problem.
Is what we saw on the tallying week, a culmination of Artur led- media arm-twisting since the Kibaki first term invasions? Does â€œrattling a snakeâ€ strategy work so well, that the wielders of impunity have at last aligned the media with their evil intentions and the media is now behaving? These are the questions that keep ringing in my mind.
The media obviously had its own parallel tallying, from the ground, whatâ€™s the differential, between their numbers and those currently in contention? Itâ€™s a worldwide known phenomenon that Kenyans are generally corrupt. The media recruits from among Kenyans. Are journalists and Editors corrupt? Does some of them receive bribes to report or write in a certain way?
These are the questions you have to ask when what you read in the papers appear intent on advancing a certain agenda, which is planting a perception in unsuspecting Kenyan’s minds that life is back to normal. That we ought to move on, even when Kenyans arenâ€™t sure about whether what we have is a rigged-in elect or president elect.
Like a pressure cooker Kenyans are holding it in, because their only avenue of letting it out through healthy ways- the media is blocked. They are finding a new avenue for consolation by spewing venom in the social media. Compared to 2007, any venom that goes viral is good venom because I can unfriend you. I am in control of that. Kenyans donâ€™t act on your feelings. Â Hold it in for now.
But even as Kenyans hold onto those feelings, against intense pressure from the inside, itâ€™s imperative that the few transparent media houses give them an avenue to vent out what they feel about 2013.
Itâ€™s a key psychological/behavioral tenet that discussing things out in the open helps in healing inner wounds. When publicly listed media entities donâ€™t ask questions, through their investigative journalists, then itâ€™s a great disservice. When you are listed, you become a public entity, answerable to the Kenyan people. Your actions must be scrutinized.
Unsuspecting Kenyans swam in rivers of blood so that radio and TV stations donâ€™t get their frequencies withdrawn every now and then. Thatâ€™s why, like toilet paper flushed down the toilet, so do Kenyans feel mis-used. They will not let their fight go to the drain.
You can only stand in the way of freedom and liberty temporarily but eventually, the media somehow will start to feel it in its bottom lines and profit margins. Kenyans- who are your customers will fight back. You cannot push an ill-conceived product down their throats. They wonâ€™t let that happen. They will ally with competition and run you over.
Like a tectonic, slowly the ground will shift, and by the time you know it, you will be fighting to reclaim your market share. Readers are customers, they are not robots, and they will consume a product because it responds to their needs.
Reinventing and re-invigorating free media will take time, but a new equilibrium will emerge as the bad apples rot and decompose into oblivion while the good apples genetically engineer into succulent ones.
Shareholders will soon start to feel it as Kenyans shun the biased section of the media intent on perpetuating impunity.
Their sales will tank and as a consequence, their share values at the bourse will tumble. And of course as sanctions bite, advertising revenues will drop. Profits will head south as media cost of production heads north. Â A clear relationship between media profitability and fair media coverage which am sure exists shall be truly evident by Q4 in 2013.
One by one, the media executives who exert a top down pressure on independent journalists shall be kicked out or voluntarily and in shame exit the media scene. The alternative media will rise. And with that rise, freedom, justice and liberty will be triumphant.
Let me tell you something, smart media strategy is triangulation- staying in the middle- neither right nor left. Itâ€™s the reason CNN(neither right nor left) has larger viewership than FOX or MSNBC which are Right and Left respectively. Kenyan media should not favor CORD or Jubilee.
In conclusion let me state that Kenyans are getting tired of their goal posts being shifted. They fought for independence, and it gave way to a corrupt system of governance where half the cabinet was from one county.
Then when Kenyans thought that multiparty democracy was with us, it paved way to rigging. Just when we were about to attain credibility in our electoral system, the media turned its back on Kenyans. Like a mirage, the Kenyan dream keeps shifting. And this time the media is an accomplice.