Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mutua/Media Council beef all about superiority

Media audit was a great idea. It would have been good to have a clearer picture of how the media performed. I was waiting to see which media house will be indicted. It did not matter who is doing it, at least we would have had a process in place, capable of being improved on in future.

But the credibility of such a process seems to be dented. Why?

The on going tug-of war between the Media Council and the Director of Information Ezekiel Mutua seems laughable, they all want to impose their superiority.

When Mutua says “I am the appointing authority and can disband” it sounds like the whole issue is all about who has the power to do what to who and nothing to do with the media audit.

Wachira Waruru on the other side seems to be looking down on the person issuing the threats and wants to prove that nothing can be done.

From the time he was Secretary General of the Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ), Mutua has locked horns with media owners. He has been confrontational and demanded improvement on journalists’ packages, albeit for those working in “big media houses”.

He may have his own shortcomings like all of us but Mutua cannot be faulted for shying away from confronting media owners during his time at KUJ. He demanded action and faced managers in ways probably others did not.

The way he was bundled out of Nation left a lot to be desired, he was deemed to have rubbed the powers the wrong way.

From such confrontations and the call for the media to self regulate like the Law Society of Kenya, Mutua seemed to have the interests of journalists at heart. Even though he says only fools do not change their minds, I expected him to be a fool in the cause!

That is why his remarks about the media came as a shocker to me and made me feel that the confrontation had not to do with the media and the audit but the control of the whole process.

Eric Orina has had a long running feud with Mutua so I could not listen to him much. Yes I was prejudiced because there was no way Orina was going to be objective in handling the matter.

The beef is rather manifest.

The fiasco means that the audit will proceed but with a lot of controversy, and will be trashed by either party. Either way, it will be hard to know and quote the true position.

At the end of the day, the battle was that of personalities and nothing to do with the media audit.