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Media council blasts KTN, Standard for ‘cleansing’ details of Matiba torture

Standard Group headquarters

The Standard Group headquarters along Mombasa Road. COURTESY

BY PETER ONDABU

Well, it is an open secret that the Moi family owns a considerable stake in Standard Group, the parent company of Standard Newspaper, KTN Home, KTN News, Radio Maisha among other products.

With the Mois having influence, it means there are embarrassing details about the suffering of second liberation hero Kenneth Matiba that media houses under the Standard Group stable could not reveal.

Core among them was the torture and mistreatment that Mr Matiba underwent after being arrested during President Daniel arap Moi’s reign.

Media Council of Kenya (MCK), a State-funded body that regulates journalists’ conduct, was observing way Kenyan media covered Mr Matiba biographies after his death on April 15.

Its verdict is that most media houses did not sufficiently demonstrate how Moi was responsible for Mr Matiba’s woes.

From most of the coverage, one got the impression that the media was being cautious not to disturb Moi’s peace by linking him directly to Matiba’s woes,” the council said in its April 23 issue of The Media Observer.

KTN and Standard were singled out. A documentary that KTN ran a day after Mr Matiba’s death was a case in point. It was titled “Untold Story:
Kenneth Matiba’s Catastrophic Detention”.

MCK thinks this story was wanting.

“Although the documentary attempted to bring out the tribulations of Matiba, especially to younger audiences who were not yet born or were too young to comprehend the events when they took place, there was really nothing “untold” about the story,” states The Media Observer.

“The KTN documentary steered clear of any discussion of torture. Nor did the reporter bother to find out from his medical sources what led to Matiba’s stroke while in detention. The TV station merely described Matiba’s detention
as ‘catastrophic,'” says the publication.

And the Standard, which sells itself as Kenya’s bold newspaper, did not escape criticism.

“The most that The Standard newspaper could say was that, ‘Sadly, Matiba’s detention manufactured illnesses, impaired his leadership and other abilities and escorted him through his remaining life to his death at the age of 85.’ What sense is this supposed to make? Why this blatant attempt to hide certain uncomfortable truths behind meandering, imprecise prose?” asks the media council.

“No, detention did not ‘manufacture’ Matiba’s illnesses. How now?” it poses.

MCK also took offence with all Kenyan media houses for not revealing that Mr Matiba was not always opposed to one-party rule as he had served under the colonial government then later under Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Moi without seeing a problem with one-party rule.

“How did his transformation occur? How did he see the light, so to speak? A lot of that was played down in the hagiographies the media carried throughout last week,” the publication said.

You can read the full publication by following this link.

 

 

 

 

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