It is hard running a newspaper, radio or TV channel today.
It is even harder during the electioneering season. What with omniscient keyboard warriors itching for 140 characters of fame, to pontificate on what media should be tackling, how and when.
Strangely though, it does not take long before these same all-knowing media police often turn around and dismiss any influence in the hands of the institution of the press. Media has lost credibility with the canoodling with political class, they type away. And moral authority too, they tweet. Digital is bae, they coo.
Apparently, according to this school of thought, the furious penetration of the internet, making social media disciples of all of men and women has contributed to this state of affairs. That Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and the rest of them are as good a source of news.
Which is which? Is media this powerful institution that we depend on to inform and educate us, hence the many instructions we keep howling from the touchline? Or is it this busy body, clanging cymbal and noisy gong that no one no longer listens to?
Media has always been considered a pawn. One that does not have a mind of its own. An instrument in the hands of the powers that be. A marionette whose strings are perpetually hostage to the whims of some shadowy but powerful forces.
No wonder media often shoulders blame for misquoting individuals, being compromised to fight them and taking sides on issues and contests. Media is the ultimate scapegoat-in-chief. Is there any institution as criticized and ostracized?
Strangely, it is not just your average Joe and Wanjiku that holds this view. It cuts across demographics and intellect. It is the subject of tonnes of research and journal articles; and a number of theories.
Actually, media critiquing is an entire thriving media ecosystem globally. Of course with scholars such as Douglas Kellner, Noam Chomsky and the rest of them sit at the top of the food chain. The rest of you talking heads trying to sound intelligent on Twitter and WhatsApp occupy the other end of the spectrum.
Interestingly, alongside this seemingly widely-held disdain, everyone seems to have their expectations and wish-list for the media. Cover women issues more. Focus less on politicians. Talk more about development. Give inciters a blackout. Why don’t we have women on your live panels? Get us more news away from urban centres.
Isn’t this recognition of the immense power and influence that media wields? If media did not have power, would we still be inundating channels with requests and prayers? Wouldn’t we just ignore the media completely and let it drone on as we live our lives, half chuckling in glee?
Just because top politicians fail to honour invitations to a pre-election debate put together by media is not an indication of floundering trust and influence. Just because we have the alternative of getting news off our timelines as it breaks does not mean good old legacy media is irrelevant. Just because I have the power to begin one of those #ForwardedAsReceived on WhatsApp neither makes me a broadcaster nor media owner. And just because a sitting Head of State dismisses newspapers as ‘meat-wrappers’
Media still rules.