The Media Council of Kenya today declared war on art and culture journalism in the country, decrying it as useless and pointless. Following the opening of the call for entries for the 10th Annual Journalism Excellence Awards (AJEA), questions were raised about the absence of an arts, culture and entertainment reporting category for the 10th year in a row. Responding to inquiries via its twitter account, the organization stated that the category would be covered by stories exploring population issues, teenage pregnancies, the elderly and ageing population, changing family structures, as well as migration and urbanization.
Inside sources reported that during a planning meeting for the annual awards, the organizations bureaucrats had categorically refused to even consider having an art, culture and entertainment category on the list, three falling into apoplectic fits and five beginning to foam at the mouth at the very thought, due to arts licentious and demonic inspirations.
Sections of journalists and arts stakeholders including the Kenya Entertainment and Arts Journalists Association (KEAJA) have over the years visited the Media Council Offices, making petitions for the niche journalism sector to be included on the annual list. A warning letter has been left at the council’s office gates not to let any art and culture journalists in again. “They just come to finish our tea.”
Reports indicate that MCK senior bureaucrats have a bone to pick with art journalists questionable lifestyle choices. “All they do is grow dreadlocks, attend concerts, gossip, smoke weed, read books, look at paintings, and sit in their bedrooms with their laptops in their pajamas all day.”
As an act of good faith to resolve the current situation, inside sources at the Media Council of Kenya hint that if art journalists move over to start covering church and wholesome family events, they will consider including them on the list in 2023 under a new category – Religious and Family Art Journalists (RFAJ). Some of the major funders of the award have included art and culture institutions such as the Kenya Film Commission, The Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA), among others.
High unemployment in Kenya forces large swathes of youth into the arts and entertainment, a fact recognized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) which has earmarked creative and cultural industries as a sector for growth and investment in the next decade.
The low numbers of art, culture and entertainment journalists in mainstream media as well as the minimal media attention paid to the arts and culture sector leaves creative practitioners registering sub-optimal incomes, as the loop of lack of publicity and lack of sales continually feeds into each other.