Did Citizen TV Err By Failing to Disclose Waihiga Mwaura's Dad in Its Coverage?

  • A collage image of Citizen TV journalist Waihiga Mwaura (RIGHT) and his father David Mwaure.
    A collage image of Citizen TV journalist Waihiga Mwaura (RIGHT) and his father David Mwaure.
    File
  • Agano Party presidential candidate, David Mwaure, the father to the Citizen TV news anchor, Waihiga Mwaura, was on Saturday, June 4, cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to contest in the August 9 polls.

    Mwaure is among 4 candidates already given a nod by the IEBC to seek the country's top job. Over the last one month, he has featured predominantly in Citizen TV's coverage.

    A spot check by Kenyans.co.ke established that Citizen TV covered him six times over the last three months with an airtime allocation of 46 minutes. In this period, he was interviewed twice - in the month of March.

    Interestingly, on June 4, Waihiga was the anchor who made the announcement that the Agano candidate had been cleared by the IEBC chairman, Wafula Chebukati, to run for the presidency. This was a few minutes before Deputy President William Ruto made his way to the Bomas of Kenya.

    A File Image of Citizen TV Studios
    A File Image of Citizen TV Studios
    Citizen Digital

    His first coverage by the station was on March 11, 2022, where he appeared in a panel interview alongside renowned musician, Reuben Kigame, and were hosted by Rashid Abdalla on the Sema Na Citizen segment.

    Mwaure's second appearance was on March 21, 2022, during the Monday Report show where he was hosted by Trevor Ombija.

    He was covered once again in March and twice in the month of June, including today (Saturday 4).

    However, during the period of coverage, Citizen TV failed to disclose that Mwaure was the biological father of Waihiga Mwaura, one of the station's top news readers.

    Amid the ongoing debate on media coverage of presidential aspirants, questions have been raised on whether Citizen TV erred by failing to disclose that Mwaure was related to one of its prime news anchors.

    While no media regulations in Kenya stipulate that media houses or journalists should declare any relations to politicians, the debate lies on ethics. Is it morally and ethically right for Citizen TV not to disclose Waihiga's relationship with the candidate?

    While a section of media practitioners argue that the station should have made public this identity to address the question on conflict of interests, media scholar Dr Muthoni King'ori, opines that it is not a big issue for the station to fail to disclose the relationship.

    "It is not a big deal as long as he does not use the platform to campaign for his dad. Secondly, people need to understand that he is just an employee of the station," stated King'ori.

    She, however, noted that for transparency purposes, it would be professional for the station to reveal the relationship between the two.

    Under the ethical relativism theory, a concept in ethics that dates back to the 1800s and developed by Philosopher, Edward Westermarck, the theory holds that ethics and morals depend on a person's norms. In particular, the theory holds that ethics is subjective i.e. one may view something as morally wrong while it may not be wrong to another person.

    Deputy President William Ruto (right) receives the certificate of nomination to vie for the presidency from IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati at the Bomas of Kenya on Saturday, June 4, 2022
    Deputy President William Ruto (right) receives the certificate of nomination to vie for the presidency from IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati at the Bomas of Kenya on Saturday, June 4, 2022
    DPPS