Standard Group – in it’s typical fashion of “don’t get it right, get it written” and in the competitive spirit of scooping its rivals – took its boldness to the graveyard by announcing early today on its facebook page that former cabinet minister Njenga Karume is dead without confirmation.
The thread – snappy and assertive (“Business man Njenga Karume is dead”) – was quickly picked by social media and spread like fast only for it to turn out to be false. The daughter of Mr Karume, former Kiambaa MP and GEMA patron, Ms Lucy, says the business tycoon is still alive and kicking.
The media house quickly expunged the thread from its page but that has not stopped a barrage of criticism from angry readers, who have expressed dismay at how a media house of Standard’s calibre can publish such sensitive information as the death of a prominent person without verifying the truth.
“It’s unforgivable journalism that a leading media house can claim that a top politician is dead without corroborating the facts…Shame! Shame!” says Temesi Mukani on facebook.
The Njenga Karume, who is critically ill, and his family are certainly very traumatised by this news and Standard has an unenviable task of getting things straight to appease the gods of life and Kurume’s family as well as restore its reputation when it comes to getting facts right in some of its newspaper stories. The company has not said anything about this bloomer.
Meanwhile, NTV, run by Nation Media Group, has been forced to apologise for also swallowing the rumour hook sink and line. It said on its facebook page: “Earlier today, NTV reported on Twitter and Facebook that politician and businessman Njenga Karume had died. We have been reliably informed that this position is incorrect. The correct position is that he is bedridden and critically ill. We would like to apologies to Mr. Karume, his family, friends, associates and our audience for the incorrect information.”
This has forced other media houses to intervene to bring out the truth about Karume. Said Caroline Mutoko of Radio Africa Group: Caroline Mutoko: “Contrary to the rumors that seem to have originated from a section of the media – HON. NJENGA KARUME is NOT DEAD. Spoke to his daughter who’s livid at the insensitive rumours.”
REBECCA KERUBO & KSH3M
Only recently, Standard was forced to withdraw a story online claiming that Rebecca Kerubo, the security guard at the centre of a gun spat with suspended deputy chief justice Nancy Barasa, was demanding Ksh3 million to drop the case. The story appears to have been based on rumours that were being peddled by supporters of Ms Barasa. It is bad journalism when journalists run to town with a sensational story that causes panic and trauma when a few minutes of seeking clarification would do the trick. What happened to getting the other side of the story?