Walter Menya arrest brings a lot of questions on media coverage

By David Mwenda

Sunday evening was one of the worst for Walter Menya of Sunday Nation. He was taken to the DCI headquarters for questioning and was made to spend the night there over allegations of soliciting a bribe for a story. The story in questions is about civil servants who were members of the Friends of the Jubilee Foundation.

The piece which expounded on the role of the foundation and why it lobbied to raise funds for Uhuru’s re-election campaign and why they met at safari Park Hotel for the fundraiser. He also raised questions on its registration which seems to be registered only 2 weeks before the fundraiser. However the man seems to have stepped on the toes of the country’s top leadership and that is why he taken into custody incommunicado without any reasons for his arrest with very scanty information about his arrest.

The news broke on Facebook by a blogger associated with Jubilee Party. The news soon spread like wild fire as people moved heaven and earth trying to understand why he was being arrested and yet he has not done anything wrong.

Nation media soon made this an issue and within minutes had generated a story and made sure they have generated a lot of outrage on twitter. They worked their narrative of an oppressing government which has been trying to make sure the media has not done its job perfectly.

Though I have criticized the media for handling some situations for not doing its work perfectly I still think the imprisonment of Walter was uncalled for and it should be cause of discussions for more media houses.

Every media house is an island

Nation Media looks like it is alone in fighting for its workers right as other top media houses do not seem bothered about this. Apart from a few blogs like Tuko and newspapers such as Star Newspaper there seems to be no chatter about Walter Menya on other media houses.

One thing that is for sure is that they need to make sure they are united when something like this happens. Journalists across every divide work for one cause, to unravel the truth about something. They need to make sure they have supported one of their own and make sure they have made all people accountable to the stories.

It is high time for media members to realize that they belong to the Kenya Union of Journalists and that they need to support each other in the long run. This is not through demonstrations alone but through other ways in making sure they have done the right thing.

The media is under great pressure and threat

This is the second lesson I have learnt about the Kenyan media as they seem to be under a very huge attack. This is because over the last fe years we have seen the media play very safe when exposing scandals. They have done everything they have to tone down stories on government sagas such as NYS and the Afya house scandals. This has in turn led to an ineffective media at times as some of the information is hidden to avoid tussles with the government.

Finally it is high time the government tried to get the right channels in making sure they have prosecuted journalists instead of playing judge, executioner and jury without using the right channels. I hope the government will also be flexible and lenient to accept criticism for its job. However, I still stand with Walter Menya.



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