Activists, journalists and bloggers have expressed distaste over a story ran by the Daily Nation over a woman who was lured into a police trap by Nation journalists.
The journalists, Elizabeth Merab and Seth Olale posed as potential buyers of Ms Caroline Kathure Gitonga’s newborn baby for Ksh50,000.
Unknown to her, the journos were luring her to a police trap in a bid to ‘cook’ news, which they did.
The senior editors at the twins-tower decided to use the story as the main story, popularly know as a ‘splash’ across news rooms. Since then, a debate has ensued across the media fraternity on whether the story was professionally done and disseminated to the public.
Despite being a topical issue that should be addressed, most media pundits, human rights activists and bloggers feel that Nation overstepped its mandate as a watchdog for the society.
According to veteran journalist Luke Mulunda, a good journalist would investigate a story but not being part of it.
“The work of the media is to investigate a story to stop a crime. Luring (a person) into a trap which is not the work of the media,” says Mulunda, who runs the Business Today Blog.
Mulunda believes that the media cannot lead a sting operation, but they can highlight crimes happening in the society and call upon the police to do their investigations.
“Nation is not a security or criminal investigation agency. Unless you are accidentally involved in a story and recounting the occurrences, you cannot be part of a story you are telling,” he adds.
In an independent tweet, Irvin Jalang’o who runs the Mister Left blog says, “Investigative journalism answers questions. It uncovers mystery. It brings to light that which has remained in darkness. Any investigative piece which leaves more questions than answers is a movie.”
In the case of the Nation story, it is a case of deception and acting against the tenets of professional journalism.
The rule of thumbs states that for the act of deception to be deemed morally and professionally conscionable there must be no other way to glean the information, and the story must be of great public interest. In this story, there lay so many avenues of gathering information for the duo.
Obtaining information through such means can be termed as subterfuge, which can be justified only in the public interest and only when material cannot be obtained by any other means.
The duo admit to have done a shoddy job in the story by stating that they do not know who is involved in the child trafficking cartel. This could be a case of an incomplete story.
“It was not clear whether the hospital staff are part of the syndicate, but the brokers claim to act on behalf of mothers and they operate freely within the hospital,” state the journalists in the story. This is hearsay and there is no substantial information presented.
The loosely written story does not expose any other person apart from the 27-year old. This leaves a lot to speculation. They do not explain their motive in investigating the woman from Meru.
In fact, anyone can say it could have been a person on a revenge mission against the woman.
Blogger Denis Kioko faults Nation for the piece, saying that Ms Gitonga’s case was a case of “a mother caught in between poverty and a new born baby.”
So a woman is in jail because under-cover journalists lured her into attempting to sell her baby as an investigation in baby theft?
They didn't catch any baby thief, but a mother caught in between poverty and a new born baby!
And it's called investigative journalism! pic.twitter.com/QgcLE6SGkv
— Dennis Kioko (丹尼斯 祺欧口 ) (@denniskioko) October 19, 2018
Kioko’s sentiments triggered a series of reactions from social media users, a good number of them faulting the professionalism of the journalists.
So, a @dailynation journo set out to entrap a disenfranchised destitute mother of three into "selling" her baby. And then called it "investigative journalism"
Dear @NationMediaGrp …SHAME ON YOU!
— Sewe Saldanha (@ClanSewe) October 21, 2018
BTW they probably baited her until she agreed. I don't think she had even thought about it before. So instead of them finding the brokers they crucify this woman who they entrapped. No shame whatsoever on their part
— Rayhab (@potentash) October 20, 2018
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