The Media Council of Kenya (MCK), held a consultative session on access to information framework on elections and media practice.
The meeting that took place at Sarova Stanley Hotel in Nairobi, sought to emphasize and tackle matters of media freedom, plurality and independence, media safety and protection, media literacy and access to information as well as media ethics and sustainability.
MCK Chief Executive Officer (CEO), David Omwoyo, stated that the Council is working to ensure that everyone is well prepared to cover the August General Elections in a free and fair manner.
Omwoyo, while emphasizing the importance of journalists’ safety, added that the Council would facilitate the safety of journalists through safety protocols and establishing safe houses, where journalists can take refuge.
The CEO encouraged journalists to be fair and adhere to the MCK ethics by being balanced, equipped and to employ accuracy, fairness, independence and integrity in their reportage.
He further stated that journalists should have access to a good working environment and should there be any legitimate cases, they shall be heard and deliberated upon by the Council.
“We are working with the government to ensure that journalists do their work and ensure that they are protected,” said Omwoyo.
MCK Media Training and Development Director, Victor Bwire, called upon all political parties represented, to plan well ahead of the upcoming elections and provide necessary information to the public through their websites.
Bwire noted a lack of access to information by journalists could jeopardize coverage and appealed to public bodies to make information accessible for credible reporting.
In a quick rejoinder, the Registrar of Political Parties, Ann Nderitu, said that they would avail information and publish it as required by law in addition to the dates and venues where the party primaries will be held, re-affirming that all political parties should be registered by 26th March 2022.
She further said that any journalist seeking to vie for an elective seat should resign as per the law requires and register in a party of their choice in good time.
“I urge all political parties to remain united and peaceful even as they compete for various elective seats,” she added.
Nderitu also noted that there is need for individual journalists to do sole-searching and endeavor to hold the country together through responsible reporting.
“Good access to information law prevents propagation of false information and also equalizes access to information,” she said, reiterating that access to information is paramount in promoting democracy and participatory elections.
By Daisy Makena and Audrey Cherotich