18 May 2017

Kenya: NMG Policy Is Not to Favour Any Individual in Political Coverage

Some political hopefuls have complained to me that NMG has been compromised not to cover their campaigns.

NMG editorial policy allows no such thing. It is a hallmark of NMG's editorial content not to favour or oppose any individual or political party in news coverage.

In covering political campaigns, the editorial policy says, the role of NMG is to stimulate thought, explaining and informing in order to help voters make intelligent decisions on the basis of knowledge, and signal to the political leaders that the public is vigilant and will not be swayed by untruths and spin.


NMG reporters are required to strictly adhere to accuracy and fairness.

They are also barred from political activism.

They are required to maintain a fair focus on all political parties and candidates.

They are not allowed to let others dictate or influence their coverage of stories.

They are supposed to provide the facts as they are and not as they or some other people would wish us to see them.


On August 8 we will hold an election, not elections.

Criticising Americans who wanted elections held in Cuba, Fidel Castro said during May Day celebrations in Havana in 1961: "Those gentlemen spoke of elections.

"What elections did they want? The ones of the corrupt politicians who bought votes?

"Those elections in which a poor person had to turn over his ballot in return for work? Those fake elections that were just a means for the exploiting class to stay in power?"


The late Cuban leader was right to use the plural word "elections" because he was referring to more than one voting event.

He went on to say: "A revolution expressing the will of the people is an election every day, not every four years; it is a constant meeting with the people, like this meeting.

"The old politicians could never have gathered as many votes as there are people here tonight to support the revolution."

He was right to use the singular word "election" here because he was thinking of a single one.

Philip Wangalwa, a former Nation deputy editor, was also right when he asked me to preach to Nation sub-editors to stop adding an "s" to "general election" we are going to hold on August 8 because it is only one voting event.


A general election is distinguished from party elections or by-elections.

The party elections we've just had on different days can take the "s", Mr Wangalwa says, but not the August 8 General Election.

The Constitution requires a general election to be held on the second Tuesday in August every five years.

The term "election" cannot be pluralised unless we are referring to more than one event.

The terms "election" and "general election" have a British etymology.

Notice how the BBC uses the terms in a story published on May 15.

"UK Prime Minister Theresa May has called a general election on 8 June - three years earlier than scheduled.

"Why did Theresa May call an election? ... Mrs May's Conservative Party has a big opinion poll lead over Labour so she will be hoping the election will see her getting a bigger majority in the House of Commons ... .. Mrs May is also tied to the promises made by the Conservatives at the 2015 election when David Cameron was prime minister."


One grammarian said the word "elections" is a lot like the word "fishes".

"When you are talking about many of the same kind of fish, they are pluralised as 'fish'.

For example, when seeing a school of trout it would be grammatically correct to exclaim, "Look at all those fish!".

When you are casting many ballots on the same election day, it is an "election".

For example: I voted for every libertarian in the last election. When you are talking about many different kinds of fish, the word is 'fishes'.

For example: Many different fishes live in Lake Texoma. When you are talking about many different election days, the appropriate word is 'elections'.

For example: Barack Obama has won many elections."


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