The Media Council of Kenya has taken journalists based in Kitui through ethics, principles, rights and responsibilities during a two-day training in readiness the forthcoming election reporting.
Twenty-five journalists drawn from Kenya News Agency, National Newspapers and TV stations as well as local FM Radio stations were also tipped on the electoral cycle, their safety and how to eschew hate speech and fake news.
Addressing the journalists at a Kitui hotel, MCK Deputy CEO Victor Bwire said the training on election reporting for journalists was critical ahead of the August 9 polls for effective coverage of the national elections.
He noted that up to 70 per cent of the journalists who would cover the impending general election were new entrants in the profession and were not well versed with electoral laws hence were devoid of sufficient skills.
Bwire further observed that even for the experienced journalists, the election dynamics had changed and thus the training was crucial.
“Journalists need knowledge and skills that will make them effectively cover elections in professional and responsible manner,” said Bwire.
Bwire who is also the director in charge of media training and development at the MCK noted that reporters faced many challenges during elections and required skills on personal security and safety.
He noted that the role of the media during elections was critical as the audiences relied on timely, right and reliable information from journalists, therefore the role of the media could not be gainsaid as they were key stakeholders.
He cautioned journalists against becoming what he termed as ‘purveyors of pipeline journalism, microphone orders and cheerleaders of politicians.’
“Colleagues, you must ask the hard questions to the politicians. Do not forget the adage that goes that a pen is mightier than a gun,” said Bwire as he emphasized on professionalism.
He also urged them to observe all legal statutes governing election and their trade noting that journalists needed to acquaint themselves with the electoral laws as contained in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and the election laws in order to cover elections superbly.
He said journalists should also be knowledgeable on the laws that govern their operations like the constitutional articles on freedom of expression, of the media and access to information and their limitations.
By Denson Mututo and Rose Mwangangi