, NAIROBI, Kenya, June 19 – Information, Communication and Technology Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i is urging the Media Council of Kenya and the Communication Authority of Kenya to effectively monitor the mainstream and social media to guard against inciting messages that can polarize the nation.
Matiang’i says news and information should be disseminated after proper verification of facts which are presented with due caution and restraint and publication of photography showing mutilated bodies is avoided.
“The attacks at Mpeketoni, which have resulted in the loss of more than 60 lives of innocent Kenyans and extensive destruction of property, shows a worrying trend in both the print and electronic media which seems to emerge.” he said.
“Some media houses have published stories that show religious intolerance, ethnic profiling, deliberate targeting of the some Kenyan communities residing in Mpeketoni for accusations of unsubstantiated misdeeds which at such a time are insensitive, callous, repulsive and irresponsible.”
Matiang’i says the government is worried about continued reportage of stories which can easily inflame negative ethnic and religious intolerance in the country after the attacks in Mpeketoni that left over 60 people dead.
“Insecurity affects all Kenyans, regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds, economic status or social strata. It is not exclusive to certain communities or adherents of specific religious beliefs. My plea to media owners and journalists is to ensure that they don’t use their outlets be they newspapers, radios or televisions to propagate hatred. Live interviews and call ins to radio and TV stations should not be used to propagate hatred but instead create peace.” He urged.
The Cabinet Secretary is also concerned about hatred spread through social media, including the use of graphic images which can easily cause panic and tension in the country.
He says the media houses should be mindful on how they influence public opinion and perpetuating certain beliefs, stereotypes and lines of thinking specifically on covering ethnic and religious conflict that could purposely inflame negative intolerance.
“Let both mainstream and social media, and community radios shun a mindset hungry to capitalize on the blood of innocent Kenyans. The extent of the damage and complications wrought by negative ethnicity and religious intolerance is evident in the 2007/8 post-poll violence, which is still fresh in the minds of many Kenyans. The media at all cadres of the practice have a critical role of ensuring that Kenya doesn’t walk that path again.” He said.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission has lately recommended the prosecution of various people it accused of spreading hate on social media, including TNA Political Strategist Moses Kuria who is eying the Gatundu South parliamentary seat.