The media has been urged to uphold high standards of professionalism and report objectively on elections to ensure that Kenyans and the international community, consume the right information during the electioneering period.
Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Principal Secretary (PS), Jerome Ochieng, asked the media to adhere to the code of conduct and regulations on elections coverage to ensure that the content released does not destabilize the country as the election date draws nearer.
A lot of hate speech, he said, was coming out of the political platforms urging media practitioners to filter the information collected during the campaigns to ensure that the poll is held in a peaceful manner.
“When hate speech finds its way through the media space unchecked, it can escalate to incitement and spark violence,” he said.
He challenged journalists to verify and fact check information and at the same time give equal opportunity to all candidates to enhance transparency and accountability.
The media, he added, must equally give space to members of the public to air their concerns and hold to account all agencies involved in the elections.
As media houses prepare to relay results for the August 9th polls, the PS called on journalists to report accurately to avoid creating unnecessary tension in the country.
“When two media houses for example relay two different results from the same polling station it brews tension which can result into violence,” he said.
“The media must therefore rely on results presented on the signed Form 34 A to ensure that members of the public access the right information,” he said.
The PS made the remarks, Monday, at Ukweli Pastoral Center in Kisumu during training for Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) media and communication managers on election coverage.
The training sponsored by the Media Council of Kenya, targets to equip the media practitioners with the requisite information to enhance their knowledge on covering elections.
The government, he said, was committed to the freedom of the media and will continue to partner with the sector to enhance free flow of information.
Through the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) and partners, he disclosed 2, 100 media practitioners have been trained on election coverage.
The training, he said has helped build the capacity of the media personnel on the elections coverage guidelines to ensure that they play an active role in the exercise.
MCK Chief Executive Officer (CEO) David Omwoyo asked journalists to remain impartial and give equal opportunity to all the candidates.
MCK, he disclosed, was in the process of setting up regional media centers across the country to assist both local and international journalists covering the August 9th general elections.
The initiative, he said, was among the many interventions taken to ensure that journalists operate in a safe environment while covering the elections.
“Instead of hanging around hotel corridors to file stories, we want journalists to have a secure working space while covering the elections,” he said.
The centers, he added, will be up and running the first week of August asking journalists to make good use of them.
By Chris Mahandara and Samwel Oyugi