The Kenya Correspondents Association (KCA) has identified 70 journalists who are undergoing training to generate stories to counter disinformation that is rampant in the society with the increasing usage of social media.
The association will engage journalists from Kakamega, Kisumu, Kisii and Mombasa Counties in the programme that is supported by Deutsch Akademie, a Germany Institution, on capacity building Rural Correspondents and journalists across the country on tackling disinformation.
KCA chair William Oloo Janak said during a two-day training for Western and Nyanza journalists that some of the rural communities lacked the capacity to determine information that is genuine and what was not yet they consumed a lot on online media.
He said disinformation subverts the truth causing harm and conflict in the society just as was witnessed during the August General Election.
The trained journalists will identify areas in their counties on disinformation and produce stories with long shelf life to counter the disinformation by ensuring they are factual and pass the test of fact checking tools.
The association has identified a pool of fact checkers and editors who will be assigned to the identified journalists to support them in writing quality stories on disinformation.
He said journalists are expected to produce stories on topical issues ranging from economics, politics, environment, social, among other areas which they will share through their media houses, social media handles and their own blogs.
“We are coming from the general election and there are issues that were driven by different interest groups on disinformation. Some of them were campaigning for individual politicians or parties. They used a lot of influencers and this brought a lot of confusion for some people causing division,” he added.
The programme is going to add value to what the rest of the media industry is doing on fake news, misinformation and disinformation due to the rise of technology and social media usage.
The programme comes at a time when the media environment is changing with KCA focusing on mentoring journalists to survive long in the challenging field.
“We are building a community of journalists that is sensitive to the needs of the society,” he noted.
He said that the association is further finalizing an engagement with the Constructive Institute on emerging brands of Journalism where journalists illuminate the issues in the community by telling community service stories.
“Journalism of the future is constructive journalism which focuses on building bridges with the community or serving the community interests and not seeing the community as backward. Constructive journalism does not seek to offend and therefore the Media should not train one to be combative or to be an activist journalist,” he noted.
He said that with the rise of social media, the journalism environment is changing and journalists should therefore shift to second day journalism also known as story behind a story journalism.
Janak called for collaboration and cooperation of the government agencies to ease the work of journalists across the country.
“All stakeholders in this country must work together to ensure that the media is protected, the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press is guaranteed as provided for in the Constitution, so that journalists are able to work without fear, intimidation and are facilitated to ensure they do the sacred duty of informing the public,” he noted.
He said the association is moving forward to conduct a survey of all the media houses next year to establish the levels of remuneration for journalists and the conditions under which different journalists operate.
“We will take various forms of action including litigation if negotiations fail. We do not require a situation where the journalists are hired on the phone. We need to read their contracts and we urge journalists to give us information about their welfare. Journalists should resist exploitation since they encourage bad practice among the media owners. Although there are no jobs, you cannot exist in an environment of abuse as a journalist,” he pointed out.
By Moses Wekesa