The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and Media Council of Kenya (MCK) will work together in monitoring content aired at vernacular radio stations in the country to ensure they are not used as vehicles to propagate hate and incitement during the electioneering season.
Speaking at a Journalists’ seminar courtesy of NCIC at a Kericho hotel, MCK Director of Media Training and Development Victor Bwire stated that it was vital to monitor vernacular radio stations to ensure they promote peace love and unity and not propagate hate speech.
Bwire recounted that in Rwanda, vernacular radio stations played a key role in promoting the deadly genocide by inciting one community against the other and that should not happen in Kenya.
The MCK director has at the same time called on journalists to carry out their professional duties with due diligence, while exercising good judgment of news stories they relay to the public, more so as political temperatures begin to build up ahead of next year’s general election.
As the country inches closer to the general election, journalists should play a key role in their agenda setting role to ensure the nation remains united,” he said.
Bwire also implored upon journalists to revisit their code of conduct and ethics to remind themselves on how to cover conflict related stories, especially during the electioneering period.
The director also asked journalists to avoid playing the role of political activists during the campaign season, but instead be objective in coverage of news as professionals while at the same time practicing solution based journalism by being agents of change in the society, thus helping the country resolve pertinent issues.
“Avoid exaggerating news stories and stereotyping people. Strive to add knowledge, seek and report facts and minimize harm. Do not report to cause problems but report to solve problems,” reiterated Bwire.
On his part, Kericho Assistant County Commissioner James Nyamwamu stated categorically that the government was aware of the boarder conflicts between Kisumu and Kericho Counties at Sondu area.
He promised that the government machinery would initiate a truce before the campaigns begin to ensure peaceful coexistence between communities in the area.
The Ainamoi Sub-County Police Commander Mr. Caleb Wesa who was also present at the forum promised to work closely with the media practitioners in providing crucial information for public consumption.
However, he urged journalists to be responsible by only reporting factual news and any other relevant information that may promote positive change in the society.
The sensitization seminar for Kericho based journalists was officially opened Wednesday by the Kericho County Commissioner Karung’o Kamau who promised to work closely with NCIC in sensitizing communities around areas touted as political hot-spots in the county in order to calm the tension that normally builds up towards the election period.
The NCIC team headed by the Deputy Director Corporate Communication Ms. Olive Metet and NCIC officer Mr. Wycliffe Mwatu trained media practitioners in Kericho County on various contemporary issues including conflict sensitive journalism, the art of storytelling, the role of media in countering political intolerance, electoral violence and fake news.
“We have met over twenty news reporters and bloggers from various media houses and we are glad to work with them to ensure the country enjoys peaceful elections come 2022.
We realize that the media plays a key role in peace building. NCIC has a clear roadmap that will ensure that we deliver a peaceful election,” said Metet.
By Kibe Mburu