Thursday, 11 November 2010

Daily Nation's skewed journalism

Daily Nation, Kenya’s biggest newspaper, both in terms of readership and circulation, has grudgingly published the story of witnesses to the 2007/8 chaos saying they were coached to implicate William Ruto in the violence.

This is a story that Daily Nation would really not wish to publish. This is because it appears positive towards Ruto because the story seeks to weaken the case against Ruto regarding the 2008 violence.

Over the past several weeks, maybe since Joseph Odindo was appointed the overall editor of the Daily Nation, and the Nation Media Group, has editorialized news stories, often criticizing William Ruto, while clearly supporting Premier Raila Odinga.

It is not clear if Linus Kaikai, person who oversees NTV television news has used personal differences they have had with Ruto over a girl, to twist stories that seek to portray Ruto in positive light.

But of course there is no disputing the fact that NTV has often portrayed Ruto in a bad light. If they are not giving him bad coverage, they are giving blackout to the man when he does anything seemingly positive. But anyway, who watches NTV.

Let us go back to the Daily Nation newspaper.

When Ruto returned from the ICC, Daily Nation banner headline said that he did not after all meet ICC chief prosecutor, Moreno-Ocampo. The story sought to overplay that element, while the rest of the media did not see as much in that, since Ruto met other prosecutors for many hours.

A day later, on 10 November, Daily Nation said ‘Ocampo still on track despite Ruto’s mission’. This front page story said ‘ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s spokesman said Mr Ruto’s visit to The Hague had not changed anything and investigations were on schedule’. Basically this story sought to show that Ruto’s visit to the ICC was nothing at all.

And now with the story of two people saying that they were paid by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights to implicate Eldoret North MP William Ruto in the 2008 post-election violence, they must have been in pains to publish this on their website. Be assured though that it will not likely be a front page story; unless they would like to hoodwink audiences that this newspaper is fair.

Since Joseph Odindo was appointed the overall editor of the Nation, he has sought to give Raila Odinga better coverage on various issues. Odindo and other top writers are Odinga’s consultants.

Sample this, when a story critical of Odinga gets to Daily Nation at around 6pm, or even 8pm (Daily Nation goes to bed quite late), the editors reach Odinga (James Orengo, etc) by telephone to give a reaction. For example if the story was ‘’13 MPs criticize Raila’s anti-graft record’, the story will become, ‘Raila dismisses 13 MPs who questioned his anti-graft fight’’.

It is such a pity that the country’s most influential newspaper can exercise such skewed journalism.

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