Connect with us

Published

on

There is a new fad in town. In recent years, Kenyans seem to have discovered the magic power of media exposure. And, with that discovery, every Kamau, Otieno and Mutisya is praying for the day he will get his 10 minutes of fame. It has become a spectacle to behold.

Nowadays, people are using all manner of gimmicks, tricks and stunts to get that all important exposure through trending. It’s anything goes, from eating “githeri” (boiled mixture of maize and beans) from a polythene paper bag while on the voters queue during August 8th election, to raising placards on the streets in search of jobs.

Media interviews have evolved over the last two decades. In times gone by, particularly before liberalization of the media in the early 1990s, broadcast media was exclusively State owned. Only those who towed the line of the ruling Kanu party, or belonged to the apparatchik, had their day in the sun, especially on the single government owned television.

Voice to divergent views

In fact, television interviews on the Voice of Kenya (VoK) were not only few, but highly predictable in terms of messaging. It was about propagating the social, economic and political status quo. But VoK’s rebranding to the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation in preparation for political liberalization in the late 1980s changed things somewhat. The new outfit was required by law to give a voice to divergent views. But we all know that is easier said than done.

READ: Media role in the election fallout

Anyway, the exponential increase of media houses and subsequent expansion of the democratic space resulted in cut-throat competition. Interestingly, the proliferation of media channels has hardly increased the quality of content. Although there are numerous interviews of personalities across the media spectrum (print, broadcast and electronic), there is very little light emanating from these forums.

It is like a cacophony! Am not saying that many of the interviewees are just noise. But there is a problem either with the way interviewers present issues to them, or the honesty with which they (interviewees) field the questions.

Basically, media houses should restructure this news segment if it is going to bring about the much needed thought leadership in our society. I do not like to constantly compare things, but then how else would we benchmark our performance? For instance, let us take CNN, the self-touted world news leader. It is always a refreshing and enlightening experience watching the experts they interview.

Lately, I have been following CNN’s coverage of Hurricane Irma, which hit the Florida coast in America on Saturday. All through the coverage of the hurricane’s path, they brought in various experts to explain to their viewers what was really happening. The meteorologists were experts in both theory and practice. They explained the whole concept in such a way that you could “see” and “feel” the hurricane.

SEE: Rise of Githeri man and the state of advertising in Kenya

The closest we have witnessed such a devastating weather phenomenon is El Nino. Very few Kenyans, even the educated, can explain El Nino’s cause and effect. This is because the interviews conducted as part of general awareness during such crisis are not structured in a way that they dissect and demystify the issues accordingly.

The problem with interviewing

So, what generally ails interviewing in the Kenyan media? First, interviews in most media houses lack interrogation and depth. This is why interviewees sound the same across the board. The cross-examination of issues is flimsy, with a lot of emphasis placed on presentation and form, rather than substance.

The above is a by-product of the poor interviewing skills of our journalists. Even some of the most popular names on TV have often been criticized for mishandling interviews by bringing their emotions or prejudices into the picture. Their combativeness puts interviewees on the defensive, thus limiting a full debrief of the topic or topics being discussed.

Political interviews are indeed the worst. Some journalists ask questions based on their personal political preferences, inclinations or bias, using dichotomies that leave little or no room for objectivity. Some are interviewers are especially notorious for having heated exchanges with guests in an apparent clash or contest of ideas.

READ: Rise of scandal news and death of investigative reporting

Further, some interviewers are short of even the basics. They have inferior language skills, which is sometimes worsened by mother tongue inflections in their diction. It is not about using the Queen’s English here, but speaking in an eloquent manner that can communicate with people of different linguistic orientations.

As noted earlier, everyone today is a wannabe analyst, or expert in something. This political year has especially had its fair share of “fake” analysts telling us the obvious. But this is not to say that we should have the same people on TV. The media just needs to cast their nets wider and invite people with requisite credentials, even if they have to cater for the expenses of flying them to the city from far flung areas.

Ultimately, the media needs to restructure the concept of interviews to make them more vibrant, educational and engaging. Interviewers should take a back seat and let the issues being discussed come alive. It’s about being a teacher; not a star!

Stephen Ndegwa is an experienced media practitioner specializing in thought leadership. He has written for various media houses and publications, both locally and abroad. Ndegwa is also a strategic communication expert, with skills across the public relations and marketing mix. He is an author, blogger, poet and university lecturer in communication. Email: [email protected] FB: Stephen Ndegwa Twitter: @Ndegwasm

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News Updates

Person of Interest20 hours ago

Young sociologist who heads health docket in Turkana

Moses Natome, who has been re-nominated by Governor Josphat Nanok, says he a team player and has in the past...

Health21 hours ago

Kenya faces Sh103b annual shortfall for universal health coverage

Health PS Julius Korir says so far the government is only able to afford Ksh 12.4 billion annually to cater...

NEWS21 hours ago

Supreme Court explains why it threw out petitions

The court ruled that NASA candidate Raila Odinga did not formally withdraw from the election but only declared his intention to withdraw

Editorial1 day ago

Time Raila stopped being a political enigma

Election seasons must be predictable so that the people and their chosen government can move on with the business of nation...

Analysis1 day ago

Nairobi-based US diplomat quits, blasts Trump

In a scathing resignation letter, Elizabeth Shackelford tore into the Trump administration and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for undermining the work...

LIFESTYLE3 days ago

Half of Govt workers are drug addicts

NACADA survey shows alcohol abuse among employees in the public sector stands at 57.9 percent, higher than the national average...

Economy3 days ago

Kenya’s economy to ‘bounce back’

Kenya’s economy is set to grow from the current 4.9% to 5.5% and 5.9% in 2018 and 2019 respectively, a...

Opinion4 days ago

Libya slavery scam: Africa has killed its own sun

African states have created the environment in their home countries that have made their citizenry so desperate and hopeless to...

Person of Interest4 days ago

Unique name that inspired KCPE star

As a biology teacher, Harrison Tanga was not fazed when he went to hospital to see his newborn child, unlike...

LIFESTYLE4 days ago

Youth turn to sex to soothe election pain

The struggle to make ends meet has left them disillusioned, apathetic and angry, according to the annual survey of nearly...

Advertisement

Trending