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Friday, May 28, 2010

Naivasha memoirs....Part II

The second day in class was so-so. The Great Rift Valley Lodge should consider softer mattresses. My back was aching. I should have carried my sleeping bag. But I digress.

And who was in the house? There was seasoned journalist Kwendo Opanga “guiding” us on “Reliable Information Sources in Political Reporting”. Opanga is the editorial director of Diplomat East Africa Magazine, a high-end publication that targets the diplomats or should I just say, foreigners, in Kenya.

And what were the gems from this old hand? Sample this: “Out there, people know that we know, they look to the media to tell them what’s going on” and this “I am not just talking image, am also talking about substance.”

That was his ‘bass-one’ vibrating in the conference room as he slid yet another vocabulary “newspaper babes”, wow, did Caro Wafula, my colleague at NMG’s Parliament desk hear that? Hehe! She’s the only female print reporter who attended the meeting (didn’t see The People Daily’s Dinah Ondari). The other ladies in the house were Nelly Moraa of KBC and Carol Korie of Radio Salaam.

After Opanga’s presentation, we had Owino Opondo, the maverick parliamentary journalist who not only hates “intellectual arrogance” but also “unacademic swagger”, when it comes to journalism. Eh professor, this English!!

His topic: “Role of the media as a watchdog: the journalist’s place in the political process.”

And he pampered the presentation with French words, but the one that stuck was that one about ‘public discourse’. I can’t write it, but sure as day is from night, he had an interesting piece. But prof, Poynter tells me Citizen journalism has already taken up the Fifth Estate. “Anyway, the dog can only guard so far!” Haha…I can’t forget the way Opondo’s voice dropped to a near-whisper as he uttered that.

What’s that again that prof said about “time and conspiracy” in covering politics? Ha! A dog can only watch so far!

But even if you didn’t attend, listen to this from typical Opondo: “You cannot take a contrary position from a point of ignorance.”

Then came Kipkoech Tanui. I am sorry his contribution to the workshop will have to come later. This guy is the bomb. Real life experience. I can’t believe with all the shit (oops!) going on in the world, he can still stay put as a managing editor. Coming up… in the next post, is his contribution.

Michael Kalulu, a lawyer from Parliament wound up the presentations from Parliament and then Linus Kaikai, my boss at the Nation Broadcasting Division, also gave a crucial speech.

Now, this is just a little from Linus’ mouth: “It’s not easy to cover Parliament. [Covering Parliament] it’s not like covering a road accident.”

And the punchline, if you believe in George Orwell’s Freedom of the Press, Linus made it very simple.

“Media owners making news, is actually a very worrying trend. It puts the journalism [‘calling’, he insisted, not ‘trade or profession’] in a very awkward position…the market doesn’t differentiate between media owners and journalists, yet there are very major major differences.”

He was responding to a question from Ben (who works for ‘Real stories, about real people (pause) told to you in real time!) yes, Ben, if you are reading this you do remember what you asked.

The senior deputy clerk at Parliament, one PC Omollo closed the session. Allow me to put his exceptional talk in a separate post.

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