AnÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â investigative story dubbed "The Rogue Tracker" run by the Kenya
Television Network (KTN) has sparked an ethics debate among media
scholars and journalists in the country, writes Dennis Itumbi for
The three-part story claimed that a car tracking company – Tract IT -Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â has been allegedly swindling clients of their money while "pretending" they had fitted their vehicles with a tracking device. It has since emerged, however, that the TV companyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s parent owns a rival company in the car tracking business.
In the expose, two KTN journalists revealed that the company had actually not fitted 50% of their clientsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ vehicles with the tracking device.
In the course of their investigations, they also discovered that two MPs are among those who were "fooled" by the company.
The two journalists captured an attempt by the firmÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s managing director, Shehzad Tejani, to bribe them with 1.5 million Kenya shillings (around US$19000) in cash to suppress the story.
Despite the overwhelming evidence on camera, Tejani has since denied any wrongdoing and blamed it on business competitors.
However, KTNÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s failure to declare its own interest in the industry has since drawn criticism. Its parent company, Standard Group, owns the only other player in the business, Car Track.
Charles Okumu, a media lecturer at The Kenya Institute of Mass Communication (KIMC), said: " Whereas there is nothing like complete objectivity, when a media house owns a competing company to one they want to expose it would be fair to subject all companies to the same standards of investigation, but in this case a story abour Car Tracking companies was reduced to only one focus and the camera was not allowed to zoom. It is a sacrifice of journalism ethics."
But, Juma Ayansi, a media scholar, differed arguing that " as long as facts are kept, then the duty of journalism has been served, facts are sacred and opinion is free."
But both agreed that KTN should have declared their interest while running the story.