Shock gripped Uchumi Supermarket employees recently when they came to work in the morning and found, converging at a meeting; the entire stock of underwear and pens laughing heartily and high fiving. No they weren’t. They were cowering under the shelves because they had read in the news that Ofwono Opondo had attacked journalists. They thought they were next.
You can remember that a couple of years back Ofwono Opondo and as he so aptly describes himself a ‘regular and reliable news source’ went into a then new Uchumi Supermarket and allegedly shoplifted a pen and two(?) pairs of underwear. He was caught. He became a disgrace. His party NRM kept him on in a top position even eventually made him the party spokesman. I wonder how that played out though
-so, we are looking for an individual that will be the mouth piece of the party
-let’s see, we have embezzlers, the corrupt, timber thieves, HIV and Tuberculosis money thieves, power sticklers….
-hmmm, we seem to be in a bit of a pickle here, chimed one as he tried to balance his fat behind on the fat wallet of cash in his back pocket
-the visionary man then looks around the room and then points at a man trying to knick a pen nestled in the cranny between the ear and the hair of his colleague.
-you. Kleptomaniac. You talk for the party.
And that is the story of how Ofwono Opondo was elected NRM Spokesperson and has since been interviewed and quoted as an authority and well, talked to as if the world held him in high esteem.
At the end of last month, Ofwono penned what was a very insightful and quite frankly spot on and a long time coming article about the diminishing integrity of journalism stemming right from the top Editors and seeping right to the overly exploited, poorly paid freelance journalist. He said that at a concluded NRM National Conference journalists attacked NRM officials demanding for cash…
As a journalist who always used to be treated like a common criminal every time I went to the accounts department to ask for a miserly 3,000 transport refund from the company, I can understand why when presented with a brown envelope or wads of little cash, a journalist would quickly jump at it.
Either that or arm chair journalism which I am ashamed to say that for most of the time before I left the journalism field that I loved so much, I turned down assignments that required for me to travel further than the middle of the town to get to a source because at the end of the day, the trouble you went thru to get the refund from accounts coupled with the miserable wages at the end of the month are just not worth it. But at the end of the day, miserable wages or not, it is disgraceful for journalists to ask for and expect monetary and or any other favors in exchange for stories.
Of course corporate companies will go to all lengths to ensure that their stories run at all costs including paying off editors and ‘facilitating’ the journalists that have come to cover these functions. Journalists who are used to this kind of treatment will then always expect that whenever they are invited by a company or organisation to cover a story, it is only given that they are compensated for the time and effort.
So here is the diagnosis. That journalists are underpaid and hence have no qualms about taking and sometimes even demanding for monetary favors from organisations. This Diagnosis however, does not offer any solutions. Dr. House is not going to strut in on the 38th minute, wave his cane at the patient’s toe ring, proclaim that if she were to take it off, the levels of toxins in her brain would decrease and she would be healed forever. No. Perhaps this show will go on longer. First, they will amputate the toe in the 40th minute, snip off the foot at the hour, maybe the leg will soon follow at the 90 minute mark and hopefully by then the gangrene will have been curbed. And the amputated leg will forever be buried with all the editors in chief who have no qualms about selling advertising for editorial favors, who take millions in cash in exchange for ‘killing’ a story about a high profile member of society while they practice double standards to their employees preaching the evil in accepting brown envelopes. And hopefully with intensive treatment, better pay, better working conditions, better medical and other benefits, long after House has ended, we shall find a cure for brown envelope journalism.
Meanwhile, let Ofwono Opondo continue to point his soot covered fingers at the culprits.