A front cover of today's Daily Nation. Photo Credit: Philip Makori

What’s news? That’s the question that journalists from various media houses in Kenya are grappling with today after the Daily Nation published what many feel is, in fact, “stale news”.

On the cover of today’s edition, the Daily Nation, Kenya’s leading newspaper in terms of circulation and revenues, has published an article about the 360,000 jobs that IEBC is offering to Kenyans related to the forthcoming general elections.

The article – “360,000 Election Jobs Up For Grabs” – by Patrick Langat talks of massive preparations for the election being under way with the recruitment of at least 360,000 temporary staff this week.

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Daily Nation rightly reports that among the temporary staff being recruited are 180,000 police officers to provide security at 40,883 police stations, 290 constituency tallying centres, 47 tallying centres and the national tallying centre at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi.

In fact, the commission is seeking to employ 91,032 presiding and deputy presiding officers, 262,665 polling clerks, 580 constituency ICT clerks, two for each of the 290 constituencies, and 2,900 ward educators, two for each of the 1, 450 wards.

But some journalists feel there is no news here.

First, IEBC advertised the jobs on 9th June and it was reported by many outlets. Second, the Sunday Standard carried a big story on the same in its June 25 edition under the banner, “Record 500,000 personnel to man August elections”. Third, most of the positions, including clerks and logistic officers, have already been recruited and awaiting training.

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What Daily Nation would have done as follow-up would be perhaps to confirm whether the response to the jobs was good given that only 81,000 applications had been received four days to the June 15th deadline. It would have made a good read if the journalist focused more on informing Kenyans on the progress of IEBC’s other preparations such as deployment of  electronic gadgets to the constituencies.

Apart from forced quotes from IEBC on the jobs as well as from the police leadership on the role of the security officers in the election, which do not add much value to the story, the headline piece is basically a rejig of old news.

How The Standard reported the story on June 25th.

While the story can be argued to be more informative, the headline promises new jobs, yet even in the same article the reporter acknowledges that recruitment has already been done for some.

“Also being sought in the massive job openings are 337 logistics officers, one for each of the 290 constituencies and the 47 counties, who have been employed on a 30-day period for Sh1,500 a day,” the article reads in part.

What about a spin?

Many Kenyans may have been misled into buying the newspaper hoping for fresh jobs only to find it’s the old jobs advertised earlier by the IEBC. News can be very slippery. It may, sometimes, really depend on who is releasing it.

Some are seeing it as a possible spin to give IEBC some positive coverage after months of negative publicity and set backs. Or, perhaps, it was one of those dry days.

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