NAIROBI, Kenya, May 4 – As Kenya held celebrations to mark the 2015 World Press Freedom Day, Kenyan media raised concerns over the infiltration of quacks and impersonators in the industry.
According to Kenya Editors Guild Chairman Linus Kaikai, media have been struggling to fight impersonators who he blamed for tainting the media image through extortion of news sources and other acts that fail to meet standards of media professionalism.
“The industry is currently grappling with a large number of quacks and impersonators masquerading as journalists. They attend events and pretend to cover them in the name of media houses and media personalities,” he regretted.
Kaikai who is also the Managing Editor of Nation Television explained that the impostors should immediately be ‘smoked out, exposed, shamed and even prosecuted for their criminal activities.’
To separate genuine media professionals from fake ones, he appealed to the media governing body in the country, the Media Council of Kenya to tighten the process of accrediting journalists in the country.
He urged the body to subject people seeking media accreditation to a thorough vetting process that will save the industry from opportunists.
Even though, part of the problem in maintaining a good image of the media was partially blamed on the quacks and impersonators, Kaikai raised concerns over irresponsibility portrayed by some journalists.
He cited instances where media personalities have been caught up in political and tribal affiliation and accept to influence their reports in favour of those they support.
Kaikai also picked a bone with journalists who accept the infamous ‘brown envelope’ usually handed to journalists by various interest groups including politicians.
He also urged media organisations not to entertain any employees defying the code of ethics for practice of journalism in Kenya.
Deputy President William Ruto while commending Kenyan media for their vibrancy in exercising their role as the watchdog of the society especially in exposing corruption, questioned their credibility on certain occasions.
He pointed out at a myriad of influences that he said had crept into the media industry distorting objectivity.
“It is the disgraceful phenomenon of undue influence on editorial policy direction. These influences range from actual corruption induced by influential stakeholders to distort journalism products – be it commentary, news, features and the like- in a manner that does not reflect relevance or topical priority,” he explained.
Ruto further urged the media to tell the Kenyan story in a balanced way to ensure the focus is not always on negative incidences but also the positives that Kenya has.
“If Kenya must remain a leader in media freedom and progressive narrative development, our media must consciously seek to tell our story. The world must know that we also make, innovate, heal, lead, govern and enjoy. We must let the world know that we are not all about violence, corruption, hunger, disease and poverty. There is an obligation to tell the truth always,” he said.
MCK Chairman Haron Mwangi also used the opportunity to draw into focus intimidation and attacks on journalists.
He said MCK was handling 15 cases in which journalists had reported they had been harassed.
The event celebrated in form of a convention under the theme of ‘Let Journalist Thrive Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality and Safety in the Digital Age’ also was marked with gloom following the killing of Eldoret-based veteran journalist John Kituyi.
Later on Monday evening, the events to celebrate press freedom in Kenya would culminate to the Fourth Annual Journalism Excellence Awards at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.