If our choices today determine the consequences tomorrow, members Fourth Estate….
On Tuesday morning Kenyans woke up to newspaper headlines that quoted a leader insulting another leader. In one of the dailies, a secondary story highlight was that of mothers, the birth control pill and teens. Below the main headline was another secondary story of students and a terrorist group.
Immediately I read the headlines my mind quickly went to the JKIA International Arrivals section. I figured there must have been a potential investor who had just arrived hot on the heels of GES2015 to check out this so praised country. Seeing that one of the best sources of information is newspapers, he could most have likely picked what we call the leading newspapers in the country to give him a basic idea of the current issues. The leading newspapers could also have been recommended by his host.
Faced with these headlines and comparing with a lot of other leading newspapers in other major cities I’d think his response with a smile could have been, “Are you sure this is your leading national newspaper?”
Without delving into the why I am certain that the editorial team led by an editor in chief would have found a more respectable way to phrase the exchange between the former Prime Minister called the Deputy President. Something like “Sugar storm brewing fueled by political undertones” or “Battle Lines drawn in Sugar debate” or “Political undertones in Sugar debate” or “Sugar Farmers in the cold as politics take centre stage” or something like that. Well, thosr would have been catchy enough for an investor to know that sugar in Kenya has politics behind it and unless he is ready for the murky waters, it is a no go zone!
Gutter press headlines on a national newspaper are like serving tea made over a firewood stove in a porcelain mug at a five-star hotel.
I have since been wondering, are the editors in chief in the media houses keen on the image of the house, and of the prestige of the Fourth Estate or is their eye too much on revenue and outselling competition that all else gets thrown out of the window?
As a leading media personality said, it is important for the traditional media fraternity to get it together. You can’t go round covering a car as a news item for three days and in the same vein you can’t go round highlighting insults that leaders hurl at each other just to increase your print sales!!!
The other issue that seriously irks me is the persistent bad news. Come on editors find something positive to highlight in your cover pages more than once in a blue moon. Unless one has a sadistic nature or there is an agenda to poison the minds of readers every morning to believe that there is nothing good in the day ahead, I don’t see how four highlights in a cover of a national newspaper can all be negative.
Back to my investor at JKIA. I would pull out my investments ideas journal/ note book and write:
Possible areas of investment in Kenya:
1. National newspaper
Found at least 5 newspapers being touted as national newspapers. Should carry samples back home for further analysis.
Bottomline, our editors seem to be increasingly looking at sales rather than use the power of the pen to change culture, which is something we so desperately need as a country. It begs the question, “If our choices today determine the consequences tomorrow, members Fourth Estate, are we setting a stage for the death of newspapers as an influencer or are we breeding sadistic heirs with dollar bills in their eyes day and night?