The Nation Media Group has come out publicly to condemn ‘brown envelope journalism’, the industry euphemism for journalists being influenced by news subjects.
In a statement that the leading media house has been publishing in the Nation newspapers since last week, NMG says journalism is under scrutiny and urges its journalists to desist from the ‘brown envelope’.
Coming weeks after Nation journalist Walter Menya was accused of soliciting a bribe to publish a story, Nation appears to be saving its face from the bad publicity it got from the i******t. Menya, who writes for the Sunday Nation, was a******d and locked up for two days, but was released pending investigations after no charge was brought against him in court.
More damage was, however, done after a recorded audio of the writer’s phone conversation with the news source was shared on social media in which he is cajoled into asking for Ksh50,000. If indeed it happened, this could qualify as brown envelope journalism. This, according to Nation, is where journalists accept various forms of kickbacks, gifts or cash rewards in exchange for favourable press coverage.
It says its editors, reporters, correspondents and photographers are barred from accepting any form of payment to publish a story.
Brown envelope journalism is major problem in Kenya’s media industry, with journalists from across the media falling v****m. While Nation and Standard Group have come out to fight the vice, it’s often a losing battle as older journalists pass the culture down to the new entrants. A number of journalists have been secretly fired on account of brown envelope, but this secrecy had denied such actions the deterrent impact it is supposed to achieve.
So-called brown envelop is old as the profession in Kenya and comes in two various ways: a journalists being enticed to publish a positive story or k**l a negative story. There are other ways where journalists are retained as gate-keepers as well.
The act is so-called as news subjects would often stuff cash notes in a brown envelop and have it delivered to the journalist or editor. With technology however, inducements are being sent through M-Pesa or come in harmless things as vouchers, junkets and freebies.
The Nation Media Group has asked the public to report cases of violation of this directive so that disciplinary measures can be taken against those involved.