Watching Kenya’s Citizen Television news on you tube, one realizes a number of issues that become apparent as the bulletin continues. First, it was the objectivity of the news that remained suspect. The headline story was about the depreciating Kenyan shilling that hit its worst low at 107 against the dollar. Well, that was sad. It meant the economy was doing badly. But studying the presenter as she read the news meant there was something the government could have done that it did not. It could be true somebody must have been sleeping on the job at the treasury but the news was relayed in a perspective that was intended to set the people against the government. That was never objective enough. It could rather have focused on exploring ways of helping the shilling and not hitting at the government that hard.
But it was the second item of the news that left many wondering and questioning the impartiality of the bulletin. It was a story about the six Kenyans whose cases at the Hague were at their confirmation hearings. The suspects are top government officials and are allied to the PNU wing of the coalition government to which the owner of the station is a great friend. Remember many had been watching the live proceedings from the ICC headquarters at the Hague but when the news was aired, open biasness could be seen. It depicted one suspect to have triumphed during the hearings against the prosecutor when it was evident there were flaws in his testimony.
The adverts that punctuated the news items were closely related to the news. First, it was the central banks appeal to all in possession of coins to submit them and be given notes which clearly had a connection with the state of the deteriorating shilling. This was then followed by the “Equity is Here” road show in partnership with the royal media services that own the station. The next item was now how the road show had faired. It was a an advertorial. It was advertising Equity bank and the station at the same time. Further, the advertorial was also presented as an entertainment. It was like editors selected news items on the basis of their expected influence on advertisements
The next story was political and focused on the succession of president Kibaki. But interestingly, it did not look at the contenders for the top seat as was the initial target. Rather, it focused on the place of the coastal Kenyans and their place in the succession battle. What this story said precisely was that the coast did not have able leaders to contest and as such were being looked at as people who just have to support others and that those other have maligned them over time. Whatever else intention it could have, the news item only served to set up the people of the coast against presidential candidates. Such is the sensationalism that characterize some of these bulletin