NAIROBI, Kenya, May 2 – Journalists across the world will on Monday commemorate World Press Freedom Day, amidst a myriad of challenges threatening the industry and more so its viability due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Kenya, a series of events have been organized by the Media Council of Kenya (MCK), with the main event set to be addressed by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and ICT Principal Secretary Esther Koimett.
The theme of the 2021 celebrations is Information as a Public Good, which is a call to affirm the importance of information and exploring ways of advancing transparency and journalist empowerment.
“The theme for this year’s celebration is a call to affirm the importance of cherishing information & exploring what can be done in the production, distribution, & reception of content to strengthen journalism, and to advance transparency and empowerment while leaving no one behind,” the MCK said in a statement.
The celebration coincides with the 30th year anniversary of the 1991 Windhoek Declaration for the Development of a Free, Independent and Pluralistic Press, which led the United Nations to proclaim World Press Freedom Day in 1993.
“Media Freedom is a fundamental human right that requires respect and works at the optimum when people promote and access to information,” MCK Director of Media Training and Development, Victor Bwire, said.
“Access to information is an enabler to citizen participation in governance and affairs that affect their lives , so we should embrace prior information disclosure on publicly held information for the benefit of Kenyans. Journalism depends on information sourced and accessed from credible people and places, and it is only such information that allows people to understand and appreciate the value of human life.”
The MCK will also launch the Media Sector Legislative Review Report, which is a review of legislations affecting the practice of journalism and media in Kenya.
The analysis looks at 20 laws that, in one way or another, affect the performance of the media in Kenya.
Speaking on the day’s significance, the United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said, “one of the key pillars of democracies like the United States and Kenya is a free , open, democratic societies than our media. I deeply appreciate the role that you are playing every day to make sure that the people who we are responsible to are informed about what governments are doing, that there is transparency and there is accountability.”
Kenya Union of Journalists Secretary General Eric Odour said: “We need to think of a stimulus package that is supported by the govt. We also need a media sustainability fund to help the media conduct training, mentorship and research. We need to lobby the govt to come up with this fund.”
He was speaking during a panel on Saturday, to discuss the working conditions in the media industry.