The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) carried out training for journalists in Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo counties to ensure that they are equipped professionally and mentally for the upcoming general election.
Speaking during the training, MCK Rift Valley Coordinator Karanja Jackson said journalists in their line of duty are made to go to regions where they witness violence and some report from areas of conflict thus MCK partnered with IREX to offer counseling services to journalists who need it.
“We understand the importance of mental health to journalists as a council, that is why we are bringing in the counseling sessions to journalists who feel that they require them,” said Karanja.
The training was one of many that MCK is conducting around the country to ensure capacity and safety of journalists.
Karanja added that the council is looking into having media security dialogue meetings where journalists and county security teams come together to iron out incidences of journalists and State agencies having misunderstandings.
Safety and access to information is very important especially when we approaching the upcoming elections, he noted.
He added that the country is heading towards an election that judging from the campaigns is heavily contested thus there is need for MCK to empower journalists with relevant and vital tools of trade as they go out and cover political rallies where their safety may be compromised.
He said that the election required a multi sectoral approach where different sectors would have to work together to ensure that it is a peaceful process.
Journalists were advised to take note of tensions and stress signs during political meetings.
MCK Director Media Training and Development Victor Bwire stressed that one should always be keen to their surroundings and what is happening.
“Do not wait for the situation to escalate, leave as soon signs indicate that the crowd is about to burst,” said Bwire.
He added that journalists should arrive early in order to conduct a surveillance to find exit spots incase riots break out as well as find a strategic position that is advantageous for coverage and fleeing.
Other notable things are; do not pick up things you drop when running, wear neutral and comfortable clothes, always carry a bottle of water and a handkerchief, avoid being in the crowd during political rallies.
By Rennish Okong’o