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Observe code of conduct, journalists urged

The Media Council of Kenya’s Complaints Commission has called on journalists, to strictly adhere to code of conduct for the practice of journalism in Kenya and other laws and regulations governing the sector, whilst the country heads to transitional General Election.

Chairman Complaints Commission at the Media Council of Kenya, William Oketch (L), during an exclusive interview with KNA reporter, where he expounded on key issues the Commission is working on. Photo Andrew Hinga

The Commission observed that strict adherence to the 16 rules of the code of the practice, is the only shield that will guard journalists against professional misconduct such as defamation.

The commissioners, who are touring the six Coast counties to sensitize journalists on its media adjudication mandate, urged media practitioners to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism in Kenya, to avoid media-related disputes.

Speaking during a sensitization meeting in Mombasa, the Commission Chairman, Willis Oketch, observed that the media practitioners’ failure to comply with the Code of Conduct, has led some media houses and journalists to suffer heavy ramifications.

“Some of the cases we handled as the Complaint Commission, could have been avoided, had journalists complied with the Code of Conduct. It is very embarrassing when journalists or editors appear before the Commission, to answer questions pertaining to the Code,” observed Oketch.

He observed that the journalists have a duty to uphold standards and professionalism in their reporting, without fear of intimidations from any quarters.

The Complaint Commission Chairman also encouraged the media to also lodge complaints against conducts and action that infringe on their freedom.

He said the Commission is currently on outreach in counties, to sensitize journalists on its mandate while working with stakeholders, including Communication Authority and Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ), to empower scribes understand violation of their freedom and use of the right forum, to seek justices and remedies.

“We are going out to counties to communicate to journalists on their need to also complain, when their freedoms are violated and there are remedies offered by the Complaint Commission, after hearing such disputes,” added Oketch.

Commissioner Lempaa Suyianka, added that many journalists fail to lodge their complaints to the Commission and the courts out of laxity and ignorance.

“We have cases of journalists being attacked and their tools of work damaged in their exercise of their lawful duty. This Commission will handle such disputes and offer necessary remedies, but unfortunately journalists are not forthcoming,” he observed.

While describing the Code of Conduct as journalists’ “holy scriptures”, Commissioner Henry Maina, said journalism is a profession protected by the Constitution and urged journalists to know the Code of Conduct, like the back of their hands.

The Commission will be very keen to monitor any violations of the Code of Conduct in the coverage of the forthcoming 2022 General Elections and one has to understand the Code of Conduct and other provisions of the law in order to avoid any pitfalls,” he observed.

Commissioner Prof Nancy Booker reiterated that the Media Council of Kenya has put in place clear guidelines, through setting of media standards to guide the work of journalists.

“You are, therefore, expected to uphold the highest professional standards in your work,” added Prof Booker, who also teaches at the Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications.

The Commission Vice Chairperson, Easter Anduma urged the media to remain extra-vigilant, especially in coverage of the electoral processes and candidates and political parties.

“I urge you, the media, to be particularly objective when reporting on women politicians and candidates, as sometimes you run with falsehoods without conducting proper investigations to ascertain the truth,” observed Aduma.

By Galgalo Bocha

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