CAN THE MEDIA BE TRUSTED?

The US Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trumph
This week the US presidential nominee Donald Trump was endorsed at the Republican convention in Clevenland, Ohio defying all odds and predictions by pundits and experts that he wouldn’t make it. It was said that he looked ‘unpresidential,’ that skeptism over his ability to lead the US appears to have followed him to nomination day. He’s the last man standing.

The event was not so colourful like previous conventions. Drama, protests,and celebrations highlighted the political divide that still exists in the Republican Party and the wider American society. The Democratic camp isn’t any different either. What is clear is than Amaerican society isn’t united.

A world in chaos

Over in Turkey, a coup attempt failled to amount to anything thanks to the thousands of Turks who held anti-coup demonstrations and foiled the planned military take-over, saving the fall of an elected government. And now many are experiencing the cost of failure, the country is being ‘cleansed’ of ‘terrosists,’ going by the Turkish presidents statements.

A three month state of emergency is firmly in place. Organs of the state and non-state entities are being ‘purged’ starting with the army, judiciary and now thousands of academics were suspended and banned from leaving the country. No stone will be left unturned.

The world doesn’t seem doing well.

To borrow the words of Chinua Achebe, things seem to be ‘falling apart,’ as the ‘centre nolonger holds’ atleast if one is to go by media reports and the press.

A regrettable trend of things

It’s as though there is a race to out do each other in reporting a story. Everyone seems to report on the same stories the same way, only abit better and varying of style in reporting.

It’s akin to the worship and admiration thereof of love themed songs by most, if not all musicians, that has sucked diversity and richness out sound out of this generation’s music. Artists seem to fall over each other to recapture the emotions of life that have been the centre piece past songs, in their own voice.

Here at home

Police beating Bystanders

In Uganda, there has wide condemnation of the recent police beatings and harrassment of innocent by-standers and passive on-lookers that lined the roads to get a view as Kiiza Bessgye’s procession make it’s way in the winding streets of Kampala to his Wakiso home. The media has been credited, by some, for it’s efforts in comprehensivelly covering the incident, something it never did quiet properly in the Kigezi incident involving Amama’s supporters during the election campaigns early on in the year.

Our own Kazibwe, a one time Vice president just lost an election to be Chair of the African Union with elections being moved to January 2017. Two contenders are left. Kazibwe unfortunatelly will miss the grand finale come January.

Some commentators believe the media coverage and posturing of her public image as a suitable candidate for the job, both here at home and elswhere on the continent, had a significant contribution to her current predicament. There is some merit to it.

It is quiet clear that the media has a hand in shaping the outcomes of any process, be it posively or negatively.

Take an example of the media’s coverage of Golola’s fights that have given kick boxing, a hitherto dying sport, a breath of life that has catapulted it among the prestigious sporting activities in the sporting line-up of Uganda. More people have taken up the sport in; training schools/clubs, open fields as well as in ‘secrete bases,’ the kind that Golola prefered.

He’s equally well known for taking a lot of porridge, especially before his fights, something that has worked to his detriment and made him unstable on his feet exposing him to the occassional ‘dislications.’ What I wonder though is how it has influenced the publics view of porridge and whether it has watered their appetite and made their taste buds long for a cup or more. It’s hard to tell.

What is at play

With the on-going campaign process in the US and the behaviour of our own media here, I am fairly confident that it hasn’t escaped the mind of a keen observer that there is a taking of sides of some sort, either overtly or covertly, in the media. The media doesn’t seem too comfortable standing on both feet.

A desired image is projected for a ‘favoureable’ candidate, who are also the major shareholders, of who is favourable and will serve the interests best. A less desirable image is protrayed of the other.

Trump being associated with chaos, disruptiveness which has led some to associate him to Besigye’s public image in Uganda; and Hillary Clinton as the more presidential candidate. Not that I am drawing any unfair juxtapositions of the US candidates or parallels with Uganda’s political culture.

It is no rocket science that an establishment will consider it’s interest first. The media is no exception either. However, I find that a delicate balance of the many conflicting and competing interests has to be observed in order to serve the wider interests of society as a whole.

Is neutrality workable in matters of wide interest and will it buttress in the business of the media and produce a more balanced representation of events? It’s hard to tell. But one thing is clear: nothing is what it seems with the media. Your descerning abilities will be needed logicalmeter lest you find your self with unfactual accounts of events

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