NAIROBI, Kenya, May 3- Kenya on Monday joined the world in marking the Press Freedom Day, amid challenges facing the sector that is struggling to survive post COVID-19.
The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) and the Kenya Editors Guild (KEG) held a series of events since last week to mark the day whose theme is “Information as a Public Good”.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the day is marked at a time many journalists and media workers are facing censorship, abuse, harassment, detention, and even death, for doing their jobs.
“In too many countries, journalists and media workers face censorship, abuse, harassment, detention, and even death, simply for doing their jobs. On #WorldPressFreedomDay, I urge all governments to do everything in their power to support a free, independent and diverse media,” he said in a video posted on his official Twitter handle.
“As the budget tightens, so to our success to reliable information. Rumours and falsehood surge in to fill the gap. I urge all governments to do everything in their power to protect free, independent and diverse media. Free and independent journalism is our greatest ally in combating misinformation and disinformation,” he said.
Kenya was ranked position 102 by the Reporters without Borders (RSF) 2021 World Press Freedom Index report released last week. The report evaluated the state of journalism in 180 countries and territories.
The theme of the 2021 celebrations is Information as a Public Good, which is a call to affirm the importance of cherishing information and exploring ways of advancing transparency and journalist empowerment.
Speaking at an event organised by MCK in Nairobi, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi said, “Media owners should pay reporters and correspondents very well then demand integrity, otherwise we risk making them captives of government and news sources.”
The United Kingdom Minister for Africa James Duddridge said, “I want to pay tribute to your tireless work as journalists in challenging times. Challenging times made even harder by the economic disruption of COVID-19. Many have been reporting from the front lines of this health crisis, and too many have faced censorship, intimidation, or violence.”
British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriot said media freedom is the beating heart of a functioning democracy.
‘We need an independent and sustainable media, with laws, policies and professionals to serve society. We need investigative journalists,” she said.
“We need a media that holds power to account – whether it is in the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary, business or more broadly. And we need journalists to be safe in their endeavour, working without fear of interference.”