Kenya Media houses should send reporters to every single polling station

To assure free, fair, transparent, credible and verifiable elections, the law provides for political candidates to send agents to observe the electoral process right inside polling stations. Although this has been the case since the ballot was introduced in Kenya, electoral malpractice has not stopped. One reason is that candidates’ agents monitoring the elections at opponents’ strongholds never have the chance to actually perform their duty, as the agents and voters at strongholds usually subdue the opposing agents. Kenya Media houses however have a unique advantage to offer a more trustworthy observation, ¬†as they are both trusted and feared at the same time.

The Kenya media houses have however not been able to observe the voting in every polling station across the country, mainly because they have limited resources. A media house like KBC for instance may not be able to send reporters to every single polling station, and faced with this reality, it will decide to send reporters to select polling stations across the country, to at least cover every county. Similar arrangements will be done by Citizen, KTN, NTV and the other media houses.

The problem is where two or more media houses send reporters to the same polling stations. For example, you will find every media house sending reporters to the polling stations where the major presidential, deputy presidential and other key politicians are likely to vote. Sending reporters to the same polling stations however deprive hundreds of other polling stations the privilege to also have a reporter.

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To mitigate on the above problem, I propose that the Kenya media houses work in collaboration, such that they come up with a working plan where a reporter is sent to one polling station. The reporter can then report to all of the media houses simultaneously. As an example, Abby Agina who is a reporter with KTN can be sent to polling station X to cover all news happening around and inside the polling station. When Abby Agina reports, he doesn’t report to KTN but to all media houses simultaneously. The ability of each media house to receive reports from the same reporter will then free up resources that can then be sent to the other Y, Z polling stations across the country.

In addition to the mainstream media houses, the collaboration can include fringe media houses like KUtv, Y-254 and a few others. These fringe media houses can be assigned to cover all Nairobi, Kiambu, Kajiado and Machakos counties, so that the mainstream media houses can concentrate in sending reporters to far flung counties.

When the Kenya media houses work in collaboration such that every single polling station has a reporter, then Kenyans can rest assured that rigging incidences will be greatly reduced. The presence of reporters in every polling station will not only directly reduce rigging incidences, but will also boost the confidence of candidates’ agents in hostile regions to perform their duty without fear.

Although the media houses are normally at competition, the sharing of resources through collaborative reporting will help assure the so much hyped peace that the media houses have been in the forefront in promoting. To ensure that this happens, elections stakeholders like the IEBC, NASA, Jubilee and election observers should work to ensure that this happens.

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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