The Media Council of Kenya (MCK), has set up seven Regional Media Centers to support journalists covering the General Elections.
The centers at Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu, Kisii and Kakamega have been equipped with high speed internet, to enable journalists file stories and relay election results on time.
MCK Director of Media Training and Development, Victor Bwire, said the initiative targets to enhance free flow of information at the same time ensure that journalists work in a secure environment while covering the elections.
Speaking at the Kisumu Media Center on Monday, Bwire said the Council will also provide tea and water for the journalists using the facility, adding that other support services including printing shall also be offered.
The Centers, he added, have been established in secure premises near the County Tallying Centers, to make it easy for journalists to shuttle and file their stories.
Through the Centers, he added journalists were free to call and interview various sources, adding that MCK has liaised with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), to ensure that Returning Officers across the country release timely information to the media.
“We have talked to IEBC and they have assured us that all the Returning Officers will be available to the media, to ensure free flow of information,” he said.
On security of journalists, Bwire said the Council has engaged the National Police Service (NPS), to ensure that all journalists covering the elections are protected.
During elections, he said journalists are prone to attacks by politicians and their supporters, adding that this year alone over 50 cases have been reported.
“We have had discussions with the police and right now we have a focal person in the service, to reach out to whenever we receive cases,” he said.
MCK, he disclosed, has established an Emergency Fund to support journalists in distress during the electioneering period.
He asked journalists who encounter any medical challenges or are attacked to reach out to the Council for immediate evacuation.
The Council, he said, will continue to support journalists through capacity building and training beyond the elections.
This year, he said 3, 200 journalists have been trained on various aspects, including security and elections coverage.
By Chris Mahandara