Friday, 25 July 2014

Don't equivocate where you should lead.

Today I came across the following quote on page 314 of Gerry Loughran's book 'Birth of a Nation: The Story of a Newspaper in Kenya' chronicling the history of the Nation newspaper. He references an interview he did with me in London in the late 1990s and it has had me wondering whether our media has changed in its outlook or contribution to democracy since.
"It would be dishonest not to acknowledge 'The Nation's' occasional descent into sycophancy, its periods of calculated silence and its propensity to turn a blind eye. In a London interview with this writer in early research for this book, human rights activist Njonjo Mue used words that proved uncannily prophetic when he suggested that 'The Nation' sometimes equivocated when it should have led. Referring to the 1997 poll, he said:
""I read a number of irritating, almost patronizing editorials calling on all sides to come together and eschew violence and so on instead of taking a real stand, not for a particular party but on the side of justice and respect for human rights. In countries where the political opposition is undeveloped, the media find themselves being pushed into that vacuum, not to play a blatant opposition role but to set out the issues clearly for public debate. I felt 'The Nation' did not play the role it might have.""

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