In Summary
  • It is also very easy for people to cherry-pick information and arrive at whatever conclusions they desire, and media manipulation becomes the order of the day.

  • This makes the role of the media in purveying the truth much more difficult.

In November, last year, the Oxford Dictionaries declared “post-truth” as its 2016 international word of the year. It defines “post-truth” as a condition “in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

The selection of the word followed the Brexit referendum in June and the US presidential election in November in which post-truth and post-truth politics influenced the outcomes.

In Kenya, we have been living in a post-truth political culture since the 2007-2008 general Election and the ethnic violence that followed fuelled by the use of social media, including blogs, tweets, Facebook posts and mobile phone text messaging as sources of information, misinformation and fake news.

In this election year, in particular, post-truth frames our conversations, politics and even how we deal with such civil matters as the doctors’ strike and voter registration. 

A striking example of how post-truth and post-truth politics influence our conversations is NTV’s show “AM Live People & Politics”, which is hosted by Debarl Inea and often features a university professor and some well-known politicians. In that show, at least on occasions when I have watched it, emotions and personal beliefs devoid of objective facts rule, and generalisations become facts and lies become alternative facts. In this post-truth political culture, even journalists who are supposed to be purveyors of objective facts may knowingly or unknowingly aid in the falsifying of truth as they rely on what is “trending” as sources of news and information.

It is also very easy for people to cherry-pick information and arrive at whatever conclusions they desire, and media manipulation becomes the order of the day. This makes the role of the media in purveying the truth much more difficult. In the circumstances, the Daily Nation’s series of articles, 2017 Elections Agenda, is a commendable conversation for establishing the truth as we approach the General Election. Truth is the greatest defender of democracy.

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