Kenya Spare Us the Agony and Bias: Kenya's Post-Election Troubles Have Taught the People Why Their Media Should Not Imitate the "Yellow Journalism" of the West, Reports

By Kabukuru, Wanjohi | New African, June 2008 | Go to article overview

Kenya Spare Us the Agony and Bias: Kenya's Post-Election Troubles Have Taught the People Why Their Media Should Not Imitate the "Yellow Journalism" of the West, Reports


Kabukuru, Wanjohi, New African


"You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war." These words by one of America's pioneer newspaper moguls, Randolph Hearst, have remained iconic to this day, more than a century since he wrote them. The words went on to inspire the great Oscar-award winning movie by Orson Welles, "Citizen Kane".

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Randolph Hearst had sent a telegram to his reporter in Cuba, Frederic Remington, in reply to Remington's earlier message to the effect that "all was quiet in Cuba and there will be no war". As such, Remington didn't see any point in staying in Havana. Hearst swiftly replied to his correspondent: "Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war."

As they say, the rest is history. The Spanish-American war which was at the centre of the Hearst telegram was fought and won in the press, not on the battlefield. The period epitomised what is now officially known as "yellow journalism". In other words, the epoch of sensationalism and extreme exaggeration.

That era saw two media barons of the day, the celebrated journalist Joseph Pulitzer and Randolph Hearst brawling over sales of their newspapers. To them, it was war. The same tactics are still used today.

Recently it was played out in Kenya. During the country's worst moments of shame--the post-election violence that erupted between December 2007 and February 2008--the Western media tore Kenya into shreds. For the two months, the hitherto peaceful Kenya found itself painted in the worst of adjectives. Four decades of solid achievements after independence were totally forgotten.

It was unbelievable. Most Kenyans, unaware of how bad the "international media" could be, got first hand lessons of what the so-called "objective" Western media are all about. As they watched aghast on their TVs, they couldn't fathom that such demeaning epithets as "savages", "brute stone age characters", "tribal warlords", "ethnic cleansing" and a people of "atavistic hatreds" were the best words that could be used to describe Kenyans.

David Williams of On The Web went farther than most. In a syndicated article, titled "Kenya's Rift Valley explodes in Stone Age violence as gangs kill with bows and arrows", he wrote: "With rival tribes wielding wooden staves and the bow and arrow, this was the Stone Age face of 21st century violence. Countless deaths were reported in Kenya's Rift Valley during ethnic clashes which have been raging since the country's disputed elections last month."

The British weekly, The Economist, took up the chant: "The decision to return Kenya's 76-year-old incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki, to office was not made by the Kenyan people but by a small group of hardline leaders from Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe ... It was a civil coup. Mr Odinga's supporters were not innocent either. There were irregularities in his home province of Nyanza. Still, it was the meddling in Central Province that was decisive." One wonders how The Economist arrived at such a conclusion in what was obviously a hotly-contested poll.

For the entire two months after the December polls, Kenyans waited anxiously for the Western media to change tack and be compassionate. It never happened. For failing to cultivate its own niche, the Kenyan press--which normally borrows heavily from the Western media--found itself torn between the sensational reporting of the Western media and the hard facts on the ground. It chose sensationalism. At a recent meeting under the aegis of The East African Editors Forum, top editors within the region accepted that they had played second fiddle to the Western media and engaged in a soul-searching of their true call. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Kenya Spare Us the Agony and Bias: Kenya's Post-Election Troubles Have Taught the People Why Their Media Should Not Imitate the "Yellow Journalism" of the West, Reports
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.