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Editors’ guild kicks off series of trainings on election reporting

The Kenya Editors Guild (KEG) has kicked off a nationwide training for journalists on election reporting, ahead of the 2022 General Elections.

The training targeting media practitioners based in the counties is geared towards addressing issues relating to professionalism and the code of ethics for the practice of journalism in the country.

KEG Chief Executive Officer Rosalia Omungo noted that the training touches on issues of election reporting, hate speech, combating fake news, ethical reporting and safety as well as security of journalists during elections and conflict situations.

A section of the Kwale based journalists who attended a media training workshop on election reporting organized by the Kenya Editors Guild. Photo by Hussein Abdullahi

Speaking in Kwale County at the end of a two-day workshop for local journalists, Omungo noted that KEG was determined to train journalists on how to deal with hate speech, inflammatory remarks and generally reporting in a conflict-sensitive manner ahead of next year’s general polls.

Rosalia said the series of capacity-building workshops aims to equip journalists with the skills necessary to inform and educate the public about hate speech as well as curbing the transmission of hate speech without limiting freedom of expression.

She said the capacity-building workshops that started last year seek to cover all the 47 counties and will continue until August 2022.

The CEC said the media needs to maintain a high level of professionalism as its coverage affects how the electorates evaluate candidates and political parties, adding that fair media coverage is vital to fair polls anywhere in the world.

“The media should entrench and harness the culture and power of communication for development which goes beyond providing information to help in the realization of fast-paced socio-economic prosperity that Kenyans yearn for” she said.

The CEO urged the media practitioners to at all times adhere to the journalistic code of conduct and avoid corrupt practices that endanger their reputation and personal safety.

She said the Editors’ body seeks to enhance the knowledge of journalists to ensure accurate, objective and balanced coverage of election events during the campaign and polls.

Trustee of the Kenya Editors’ Guild, Macharia Gaitho, highlighted the crucial role of the media in the democratic process of the country.

Gaitho, a former Chairman of the Kenya Editors’ Guild noted that during an election period, the media faces specific challenges, especially during political transition.

He asked the media to discharge its public duty without fear and favour, adding that free, fair and peaceful elections rested with the media by setting the agenda for the rest of the society.

“Journalists must respect the ethics of the profession, especially during an electioneering period when politicians are likely to throw all kinds of obstacles to freedom of expression,” he said, adding that the media must project a balanced and neutral coverage of the elections.

The veteran editor and columnist said politicians must respect freedom of expression and information and not manipulate the media for their own selfish ends.

Gaitho said next year’s General Elections is a make or break for Kenya and urged media practitioners to exhibit utmost professionalism and patriotism in their election coverage.

He said the media has the responsibility in assisting the sustenance of peace in the Country rather than brewing conflicts.

“If election related violence breaks out as it was witnessed in the 2007 general polls, even the media will not have the peaceful environment to carry out their operations,” he said.

He urged media practitioners to re-focus their coverage on issue-centered and development-oriented campaigns instead of personality-based campaigns.

Gaitho noted that journalists should uphold the social responsibility of fairness and balanced reportage for the overall development of the Country.

Media Consultant, George Sunguh, urged the media to reject politicians spewing hate speech and seeking to divide Kenyans along ethnic and religious lines, “because that is a sure recipe for violence,” he noted.

Sunguh urged the media houses to give politicians spewing hate speech blackouts in the countdown to the August 2022 General Elections.

He said hate speech was snowballing into a major national issue ahead of the next elections, as politicians appear to have thrown caution to the wind, “if the way they have been attacking one another is any indicator,” he added.

“Journalists should give a wide berth to politicians and political parties without any sort of in-depth vision for the country,” he said, adding that the media should be agents of social and economic progress and not agents of doom.

By Hussein Abdullahi

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