, NYAHURURU, Kenya, May 28 – National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) Secretary General Cannon Peter Kara has called on the Kenyan media to remain impartial during the referendum campaigns.
Canon Karanja called for objective media coverage and positive content to avoid misrepresentation of the proposed Constitution and other critical issues affecting the nation.
He noted the vital role played by the media and especially vernacular and community stations in relation to peace building efforts in Kenya cannot be ignored.
He however faulted ethnic based FM stations for perpetuating negative ethnicity at the expense of the country\’s tranquility adding that the government must monitor their broadcasts during this period.
“We note the important role played by the media but the government must not allow it to be used to misinform Kenyans on the content of the draft or be used to champion hatred during the referendum campaign,” he said.
He said it was necessary to control spread of harmful information that may jeopardise the country\’s stability during the referendum and ahead of 2012 elections.
Speaking at the Nyahururu PCEA church during a civic education forum, the cleric said that news, opinion and music among other programmes need to be weighed against peace and conflict to create a culture of conflict-sensitive reporting.
He said that liberalisation and expansion of media freedom in Kenya has led to increased media outlets targeting particular audiences.
"For us to achieve constitutional and institutional reforms that guarantee Kenya peace and stability a cultural reform is critical if Kenya with cultural diversity is to hold together," said Canon Karanja.
He maintained that the media owners should keep on sentisitising the public on issues that can promote national cohesion and integration in the country and encourage proper understanding of the draft constitution.
"If we want to live in peace we really need to focus on fundamentals that will give some degree of cohesion in our country," he added.
He also urged owners of vernacular FM stations to recruit trained journalists who will be able to moderate serious debates professionally.
"The presenters should strive to give an in-depth background of the conflict and the restoration mechanisms, the long journey we have taken in call for a new constitution," he said.
Canon Karana added that with the upcoming referendum on the proposed draft constitution, the vernacular media will play a central role in shaping opinions on the masses and Kenyans democracy as a whole.
The ministry of information and communications is set to formulate media monitoring policies on content in broadcast stations with emphasis on peace building and conflict early warning and mitigation ahead of the referendum.