Study claims Kenya journalists being discriminated at Chinese owed media houses in Nairobi

By Gatonye Gathura

Kenya journalists working for three Chinese media houses in Nairobi claim they are being humiliated and discriminated against by their Chinese bosses.

A report: ‘Chinese Media in Africa: Between Promise and Reality,’ tells of gross discrimination of Africans at the Nairobi offices of China Global Television Network, (CGTN), Xinhua News Agency and China Daily Newspaper.

The report appears in the current (June 2018) issue of the journal of the African Journalism Studies.

The study by Emeka Umejei of the University Witwatersrand, South Africa tell of senior Kenyans journalists who are powerless to make any decisions on how, when or what to cover.

All the main decisions, the report shows are made by the Chinese editors either in Nairobi or Beijing, China with the work of senior Kenyan editors being nothing more than collating stories from reporters.

“The Chinese are saddled with the responsibility to “do the final gate keeping and if they are not satisfied with the story, they will pay the reporter but they will ‘kill’ it,” said a senior African editor at Xinhua.

But even at the social level, Kenyan journalists said there is very limited interaction with their Chinese counterparts.

“Even while covering the same event we will not travel together. We will not be on the same plane and we will not stay in the same location.” said a reporter.

The author had interviewed 29 journalists from the three Chinese media organisations in Nairobi, Kenya.

Among these, three were former employees of CGTN, 12 were current employees of CGTN, 11 were journalists at Xinhua, and three were journalists at China Daily.

Among these, the report says only two were Chinese nationals. “The Chinese journalists, who are on editorial leadership, were interviewed to validate responses from African journalists.”

Emeji says while China promise mutuality and equality for Africans working  in their media houses, reality on the ground shows operations where the “Chinese is dominant over the Africans.’

It is significant that the study is carried out at University of Witwatersrand, South Africa which hosts The Africa-China Reporting Project , which funds African and Chinese journalists to report on  the Dragon’s ‘positive’ work in Africa.

One China Daily journalist claimed that the Chinese do not trust African editors enough to manage their newspaper. “They do not trust that Africans can run their newspapers here and that is why they have to bring their own people.”

Original study available here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/23743670.2018.1473275

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