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No absolute media freedom, Uhuru says

The President called on journalists to countercheck their facts before broadcasting or publishing their stories/MIKE KARIUKI

The President called on journalists to countercheck their facts before broadcasting or publishing their stories/MIKE KARIUKI

NAIROBI, Kenya, may 2 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged the media to be responsible in their work as there was no absolute freedom of press.

Speaking at a meeting ahead of this year’s World Press Freedom Day at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre on Friday, the President called on journalists to countercheck their facts before broadcasting or publishing their stories.

“It is your job as journalists to know what the law requires, and to observe its demands. It is your job always to keep by your side your own code of conduct and to refer to it before your story is written, “President Kenyatta said.

He urged journalists to always own up to their mistakes when they fail to adhere to their professional ethics.

The President said the Government will always protect those who may not be able to defend themselves when maligned by the Press.

He noted with concern that the media has not been acting responsibly but used its freedom to perpetuate falsehoods that could have been avoided.

President Kenyatta appreciated the fact that the work of journalists is not easy as they devote themselves to serve public interest, but practitioners need to always concede when they fail the standards.

“My Government expects that the Media Council and the Communication Authority will monitor and remedy your shortcomings in a spirit of fraternal correction. Just as we will accept fair criticism when we fall short of our standards, so you too should accept blame when you fail to hit your mark,” said the President.

Saying that Kenyan journalists cannot afford to practise their profession as though they lived elsewhere, President Kenyatta challenged them to tell the African story from the local point of view.

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This means, the President added, “standing up for and defending African values, and the African experience, giving it expression, giving it a voice, and authenticating it”.

The Head of State said time had come for a robust media debate on how the Press can contribute to national development, and the evolution of our social values.

“Our experience in and with the media is still in a flux; we must continue to debate the kind of media we have,” President Kenyatta said.

He however said the Government would continue partnering with the media to improve the lives of Kenyans.

In pursuit to its role of educating the public, the President urged media houses to allocate time for free public service announcements.

He cited health and other matters articulated in Article 10 of the Constitution as some of the national development issues which could be aired free in the media.

“There is no reason whatsoever for any Kenyan to remain ignorant of basic public-service information when we have nearly 100 stations broadcasting right across the country,” he noted.

Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication and Technology, Fred Matiang’i said the Government is committed to the growth and development of media freedom.

Media Council of Kenya Chief Executive Harun Mwangi thanked the Government for assenting to the Media Council Bill 2013 and called for the formulation of a media policy to guide the industry.

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