You know, I have been trying to avoid the mainstream vs online journalists’ thing. In fact, I have always maintained that we all need each other. Policemen need watchmen to complement them. Teachers need babysitters and parents to help them nurture future generations. When one fails, we all fail.
But there is a big problem cropping up in our media sector. We have a strong bit of insecurity within the mainstream media of bloggers joining as disseminators of information. Citizen journalism is not new but with the internet, the freedom and power of the media has gotten a boost.
Of late there has been consistent attack on bloggers and even those who don’t blog but use social media tools to inform their audiences in a different manner. Sometime in 2008, I was drinking with my mainstream buddies at Gigglers, a popular joint right in front of Nation Centre. Then two senior editors of Nation approached our table and were introduced to me and me to them by one of my friends. Ooooohhh!!! You have never seen anger, one was almost hitting me. My friend and I didn’t know there were some problems between me and the editors. One, called me names and even wanted to pour his beer on me. He said I am disrespectful, hateful, and useless; stupid looser who thinks that sitting at home with the internet and sending all manner of lies and accusations is the peak of sanity.
I sat down watching and never raised my finger. When he finished ranting I told him to sit down, he said he can’t even sit next to me. He was walking away with his drinks and called his colleague. It was when Obama had just been elected and I followed him and asked him if he really thought that I was going to be scared just because he was shouting. I asked him if he really liked Obama’s election as US President, and what Obama believed in. He was angry, dismissing but was now listening to some degree. He told me that he did believe in Obama and it was irrelevant. I told him that the main point I liked from Obama, BTW I supported Bush because I hate terrorists (not Muslims), was that he believed in listening to those who didn’t agree with him more. Would you listen to me more when we agree or we disagree? He was disarmed. He was willing to listen now.
I realised that the beef was ignited when I wrote a post in one of my former groups about bribery, ethnic manipulations and sex for job security at Nation Media Group then. I also did moderate a group where some bloggers claimed to have found some two men (thought to be NMG journos) having sex in the car-park late one evening.
I sat down and asked him to tell me what he thinks I did wrong. He started explaining lots of things and even why he thinks I should be shot on sight and why this citizen journalism madness is nothing but pure madness and it will never work in Kenya because of the economic situation of the majority. I explained my case on why just like mainstream, we must accept citizen journalism because we will never kill it and it plays a part which mainstream media doesn’t play. And we will never be and are never enemies. We complement each other. To cut it short, these two editors are now my best friends and even when I need a strong opinion from the mainstream, I contact them.
Enter now the real haters. Those who actually believe that their problems start and end with bloggers. If it were for them, Kibaki should just ban the internet or limit it to the newsrooms or the mainstream editor’s offices. They would be attacking bloggers on every instance they get. When they meet the corporate, they would tell them how bloggers can be avoided and how they should and must be avoided.
The story of Clay Muganda and DNG on one hand and Media madness on the other hand is like the story of former CBS executive Jonathan Klein who complained, “Bloggers have no checks and balances. . . . You couldn’t have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of check and balances [of the mainstream media] and a guy sitting in his living-room in his pyjamas writing.” The main beef Klein had with bloggers was the ability of some faceless guy whom he believed had nothing better to do than when a pyjama and sit behind a computer and do all manner of checks and balances on CBS. Clay Muganda claim to have outed the media critic, Media Madness, and goes on to attack his person and his state of joblessness. I wont get into their fights but I would offer some lessons.and
Blogs don’t represent such high standards of journalistic standards. It is just that blogs are the production of those who saw a misinformation in the mainstream and wish to correct them in their own way. Blogs are so cheap to produce and serve the interest of segments of markets which the mainstream thinks are unviable and the net effect is that the consumers of blogs have passion towards them and will always protect blogs and bloggers from mainstream journalists attacks.
A good number of bloggers scour the mainstream media for stories and report the inconsistencies and add their own perspectives. Some check on the main stories from the mainstream and put it in a palatable manner to the blogging community. Some just pick a story which was hidden such that it was almost irrelevant in the mainstream and then put it on the main page of a blog and so attract attention which the mainstream wanted not to attract.
Blogs will never replace mainstream media. Blogs can provide multiple links and will even give readers a chance to respond immediately. Nation has a website, it will never compete with blogs because it copy pastes the mainstream way online. Bloggers are a bit impatient and so won’t read an article which goes for 4 or 5 pages. They want 5 paragraphs of what you wanted to report in the 5 pages you wrote.
I believe that if you have a beef with a blogger, simply point it out and be specific. But calling bloggers haters and rapists is at the last end of your individual insanity. The worst comes when we know that the specific people so much into attacking bloggers are themselves failures. You should consider yourself a failure when your job has left you a zombie. You became an extreme womaniser and alcoholic because of the opportunities in your profession. You can’t be rational when you didn’t handle your fame rationally. You reaped insanity and lost focus in life just because an employer gave you the best chance. And with the internet, expect more criticism. Change or be consumed because the growth of internet and the spread in reach of the citizen journalism is at its viral peak. Stand in the way and we sweep you like a Tsunami.
It was wrong for DNG and Clay Muganda to attack the person of a blogger. The same blog, media madness, wrote some very ugly things about me. What I came to learn is that, I should also let them write and when they write wrong things, it will come out. Clay Muganda himself wrote things about me and when people took him on Facebook and through Nation website, he couldn’t stand it. More than 300 comments and people were correcting him on many fronts. He had to delete the comments because he couldn’t stand the truth. He did post the article on his Facebook Group then. The comments on the Nation website posts were deleted.
Bloggers and mainstream journos, no one will win the war. You are in for a shock if you are in mainstream and you think there will be mass action on bloggers and they will disappear or majority of them will start licking your sianda. AP has had problem with new media. CNN, Fox, CBS, and even BBC had problem with new media. They had to embrace it and learn from bloggers.
And the mainstream vs bloggers beef in Kenya has new entrants. Corporate bigwig’s attack dogs. You would see some, mostly lonely foreign “consultants”, attack bloggers for what they wrote about a particular corporate with the hope that they will get the next consultancy or it will be extended. These people would be jobless if at all they go back to their countries. They have to attack enemies of those they give corporate blow-job for their survival. You have anything against my writing, you better be specific or I will just not take you seriously.
UPDATE: Clay Muganda has just tweeted me that he started ignoring me in 2005. Wrong and a big lie. This man is addicted to me. He did an article about me in true Love in 2009 and this Clay Court article where he refers to me as Robert A.