Press freedom

September 13, 2006 at 5:40 pm 5 comments

Enemies of that always emerge from afar, – normally at the college / university level where most of us were either made or broken in terms of value systems.

A mentoring seminar I attended at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in early 2004 even claimed that most of the world’s movers and shakers had been moulded for better or worse at the post-high school level, ordinarily meaning college / university.

Which is why I follow campus news and developments in Kenya with a little more than keen interest.

Thus the news that the early semester edition of a student paper I once reported for and edited had ruffled some feathers in the university community did not take me by surprise; the newspaper has always pleased and offended some people in the community for as long as I have known it.

But it was the bit that the offended party, this time round some student club, was threatening the newspaper and some of its writers that got me thinking and finally to write my 8-cents worth of this nonsense.

For starters, the paper has almost always found itself in some form of adversarial opposition towards some individuals in the administration, student government and Christian fellowship; very rarely has the club in question been cannon fodder for the men and women in the newsroom.

When I joined the university and, in effect, the paper in my undergrad years, the administration was not having a very good press, – but both the student government and Christian fellowship were in no better situation either.

Allegations of financial, academic and moral impropriety were always flying in our face; I joined some of the big names that dot Kenya and Africa’s media and PR landscape in cutting our teeth at the paper on such beats.

Predictably, we were not a very popular lot, but we learnt much along the way.

One of the most enduring lessons we had at the time was that all our stories would fly if we had the might of right on our side, and that is what we worked at consistently.

That meant that if someone misused the institution’s funds, we would pursue the leads and call that “theft,” not “borrowing without permission” or merely “a mistake.”

It also meant that if, contrary to the code of conduct, we found students living dangerously, we would pursue our leads to their logical and conclusive ends (consequently, I left the institution having known every nook and cranny of it as well as all the nightspots, police stations and morgues that required my knowing them for purposes of my stories).

Students, student leaders and members of the university administration who responded to our questions often made our work much the easier and obviated the need for us to second-guess them on anything (to his credit, the Dean of Students was most responsive to our questions).

When we got our stories wrong with such persons as the Dean, it was always easier for us to call our own bluff even before he had lodged a formal protest with our editors (I only got one such written, brief and factual protest in my time as editor-in-chief, which I published as a letter to the editor).

While it would be easier for us to apologize for facts we got wrong in a news or feature story, there was some unwritten understanding on the part of our readers that we had creative license – within the limits of our editorial policies as well as established conventions of the trade – to speak our minds in the op-ed sections.

Interest groups in the community, particularly the student government and the Christian fellowship, who imagined that the foregoing was a little bit too hard to follow almost always found themselves on the defensive and never really doing what took them to office in the first instance.

And those who threatened the newspaper and / or its writers in the manner I hear the club now has on matters of conjecture, almost always realized that they had been fighting the wrong battles; it would be during such times that we also realized it is no easy thing being part of a community or country about which you are reporting.

I still haven’t found a good reason to warrant the club’s threats towards a paper and team that I more than like.

I sorrow greatly for the editorial team in question.

I sorrow too for the club in question which seems to be reading from the same script as those that few would want to recall; obviously the Standard “operation” as well as the Hope FM attack set us more than bad precedents.


Entry filed under: Africa, Crime, Kenya, Literature, Media, Personals, Society, World.

Theology by “faith” (II) Somali Journalist: The Islamists Have a Grand Agenda; They Want to Arabize Somalia and Turn it Into an Islamic Emirate in the Fashion of Taliban

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. acolyte  |  September 13, 2006 at 7:13 pm

    Ah, the good old days!Who’s threatening Involvement now?

  • 2. Charles Ngunjiri  |  September 14, 2006 at 8:56 pm

    Hi Masai,
    I only wish we could have a script of the story, I believe this will scale up good judgement. You could forward the URL. Again, Involvement can do with all our support at especially such times as this… Lets put our heads together see what we can do.

  • 3. Kenyan Analyst  |  September 15, 2006 at 5:41 am

    @ Aco – Yeah, the good ole days again. Dolous takes the honours this time round.

    @ Charlo – Yeah man.

  • 4. acolyte  |  September 15, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    hmmmmm let me know in camera what dulous did or did not do!

  • 5. Sammy Sullivan  |  June 30, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Kewl site man…

    keep up the good work man…….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Kenyan Analyst

Recent Posts

September 2006
« Aug   Oct »


%d bloggers like this: