The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has called on media houses to practice fairness and objectivity in their reporting and coverage during the campaign period.
MCK Chief Executive Officer David Omwoyo said there should be transparency in media reporting which should give access to truthful information because it is all about perception.
This comes in the wake of some politicians complaining of bias in the media coverage and allocation of airtime accusing some media houses of favoring their nemesis.
Omwoyo speaking at a Nairobi hotel yesterday during a media summit on elections and information integrity said that information integrity involves the ability of reporters to interrogate the information they get and be able to identify fake news and deep fake.
“Media ethics requires that there is balance and objectivity and making sure that people can see the balance in our news coverage because we have the obligation to protect the rights of the consumers and give the right information,” said Omwoyo.
He said that there is need to give media practitioners the tools to isolate the right information from the wrong information because Kenyans rely on the media to get information which they use to make certain decisions like political choices.
Omwoyo said that they are in the process of setting up an information integrity desk so that anybody can verify information explaining that this will help keep the integrity of the media since regaining trust after having integrity issues is an uphill task.
“In a previous election which was the darkest in this country’s history, we had one of our own media practitioner being taken to the highest international court so we need to do our best and do our job well,” said Omwoyo.
Norwegian Ambassador to Kenya Gunnar Andreas Holm said that he holds Kenya’s media in high regard and having travelled across the continent, the country’s media only compares to South Africa.
He said that since his last visit to the country in over 20 years, in his return he has noticed tremendous progress in entrenching democracy and the rule of law which has benefited greatly from the free and critical media which engages the citizenry.
“Improving access to information is crucial as you head to the elections especially in the vetting and assessing of candidates for the various positions,” said Holm adding that the media plays a critical role in ensuring a free and fair election.
Katiba Institute Executive Director Christine Nkonge said that information integrity is key in having a free and fair election because it ensures there is participation and engagement of the public giving credibility to the results.
Nkonge said that we can only move our democracy forward through a free and fair election process.
“The media plays a key role in informing the people of the election process which is very important because in the previous election petitions we have heard the judges say that the election is a process and not a one-day event,” she said.
Royal Media Services director of strategy and innovation Linus Kaikai said that in every election cycle there are accusations of biased media houses depending on which side the political players are in.
He explained that in this election there is a huge difference since the diverse political camps have their own media teams made up of former journalists and they even do their own live transmissions using Facebook and other social media platforms and they are using tactics like wide angle lenses to show their rallies are packed with people.
By Joseph Ng’ang’a