By Kevin Mabonga
The Media Council of Kenya, with support from the Ford Foundation hosted media stakeholders to discuss emerging issues in the media industry including professionalism, media regulation and industry concerns ahead of the 2017 general election. The forum was held on 11- 13th November, 2016 at the Sentrim Elementaita Country Lodge.
Charles Kerich, Chairman, Media Council of Kenya (MCK) briefed participants of the Council’s current and on-going activities. “We now have a Board and Complaints Commission to effectively facilitate the Council’s undertakings.” noted Kerich. He said that the Council was now set to go.
Kerich highlighted challenges that the industry faces notably, those who masquerade as journalists yet they are not and the harassment and intimidation of journalists. He said that the Council will work closely with the National Police Service to ensure that culprits are arrested and charged. He assured stakeholders that the Council would continuously engage them on various activities that it undertakes.
On professionalism in the industry, Dr. Haron Mwangi, the Chief Executive of the Council, urged media houses to set up elections reporting desks early enough and organise for in house trainings as part of the preparations for the 2017 general elections reporting. While referring to the just concluded presidential elections in the United States of America, Dr. Mwangi urged journalists to be objective and balanced. “As we prepare for the elections, we must be professional and accurate in order to get public trust.”Dr. Mwangi said.
Dr. Mwangi further said that MCK in partnership with IEBC and development partners will continue to train journalists on electoral related topics including laws governing elections and political parties.
Participants discussed the Framework for media participation in the 2017 general elections and adherence to professional ethics in the modern newsroom. The sessions were led by Maina Muiruri of the People Daily and Joe Kadhi, a veteran journalist and trainer.
IEBC’s Head of Communications Mr. Andrew Limo said the Commission is prepared to conduct elections in August 2017 as required by law. He urged journalists to help educate the public on the electoral processes.
Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ), Secretary General, Erick Oduor and Kenya Correspondents Association (KCA) Chairman Oloo Janak called on the government to take seriously the safety and security of journalists. They decried the hostile working environment for journalists especially at county level.
Representatives from the Kenya Editors Guild (KEG), Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ), Kenya Correspondents Association (KCA), Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission(IEBC), the academia and Editors from various media houses attended the conference.