, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 7 – Media managers in the country on Tuesday appended their signatures as an endorsement of the ‘Election Reporting Guidelines’ designed to guide the Kenyan media in the coverage of the August General Election.
The rules compel media organisations to remain truthful to the tenets of responsible journalism that is sensitive to peace and objectivity during the polls.
The election guidelines spearheaded by the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) were launched at a meeting attended by stakeholders in the media industry.
“An independent, professional, responsible and accountable media is a key pre-requisite for free, fair and credible election, which is fundamental for democracy, MCK Chief Executive Officer Haron Mwangi stated.
In his view, media plays a pivotal and influential role that demand for professionalism and caution especially when reporting on election matters that are prone to violence citing the country’s past history.
National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Chairman Francis ole Kaparo while urging the media to adhere to the guidelines advised for sensitivity in their reporting to ensure they do not use their outlets to incite violence.
“You can write what you want. What will happen, will not affect me alone. It will affect you and me, just remember this is your country and that will be our problem, it will affect your mother, your father and your children because we are all in this together,” Kaparo cautioned the media.
Whereas the media has the responsibility to report freely, impartially and truthfully, IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati also urged law enforcement agencies to do their part in providing security during the election period.
Ensuring there is order, he said will create a good environment for conducting credible elections peacefully.
The guidelines launched on Tuesday were a collaborative intervention between MCK, IEBC, NCIC, development partners and media professionals aimed at addressing the gaps that saw media accused of misreporting and inciting violence during the 2007 General Election and being overly sensitive in the 2013 General Election to the extent of under-reporting.
The guide will ensure that journalists adhere to high standards of journalism and discharge their duties of informing the society and playing their ‘watchdog’ role.