For a long time, journalists have lamented bitterly about the state’s excesses and in particular media freedom, but not anymore; a trend has emerged in the country where journalists have become their own enemies, working tirelessly to defeat media objectivity.
A cross-check in the 47 counties reveals an upsurge in situations where media independence is being jeopardized by none other than media janitors. This matter of media freedom is not by choice; it is a constitutional order.
It is true that devolution brought with it job opportunities in the counties, jobs which anybody that qualifies has both moral and ethical right to apply. Journalists are no exemption but they must ensure that media ethics are upheld at all times.
Journalists therefore cannot stand in the way of media freedom. While on tour in various counties in Kenya, the media council’s chief executive officer, Haroun Mwangi, has made it categorically clear that the objects and purposes of the media goes beyond parochial gains.
Indeed, Mwangi has advised janitors against double speak and working in cohort with County governments to defeat media freedom. His argument and advises seem to have fallen in deaf ears. It is sad that this matter still now remains contravened.
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There is need for journalists working for the government and those working to represent human interests to acknowledge that it is incumbent upon them to display high level commitment in instilling professionalism and objectivity in this noble calling.
As the custodian of media ethics, standards and regulations, the media council must know that the conduct of some of journalists who having secured lucrative jobs in the county government are seriously in breach of chapter four of our constitution that talks about the bill of rights under articles 33, 34, 35 and 36 where access to information, dissemination of the same in a fair and objective manner is observed.
Since their appointments as employees of the county government, these journalists namely that have previously worked with various media houses as well as a host of other media interns and other bootlicker journalists that keep hoping and praying to be included in the county government payroll have reduced the media into one big mouth piece of the county government.
They work daily and tirelessly to defeat media objectivity and have resorted instead to be subjective, their subject here being the county government of and the beauty about their employer in this case the Governor and his staff.
This they do shamelessly by ensuring that all human interest stories, alternative voices stories, government critics’ stories, exposés, investigative stories, corruption related and poor governance stories are KILLED before leaving town.
They boast of being in a position to flex their muscles both as reporters of their various media houses and as employees of the county government. They have established links with various news desks and editors to ensure that they send stories directly to news desks at the detriment of correspondents and reporters in the field contrary to media ethics and the principles of impartiality and objectivity.
Their stories are meant to propagate and portray the county government ideas as gospel truth and nothing more. Since they have the financial means and authority of persuasion, these journalists have made the work of their colleagues a living hell.
With the help of the respective Governor’s communications offices, they have established a method where they are able to earn twice, smiling all the way to the bank as their colleagues wallow in the miasma of poverty because their stories fail to be published.
This type of behavior is immoral, unethical, unprofessional and to say the least wicked. The media council must move with speed to restore sanity in this noble profession which is being threatened by quacks and self seekers. In order to restore public confidence in the media, the following should be observed:
One, these journalists should resign from the media or their jobs in the county government so that the rule of one man one job may apply; there are many jobless Kenyans and it is morally wrong for one individual to occupy two positions at the same time to the disadvantage of others.
Two, there should be an immediate withdrawal of the press cards issued to these journalists since they have become government employees and therefore no longer need the press cards to cover stories. They can as well use their staff Identification Cards given to them by their current employer.
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Three, that the Media Council should seek a written position of these journalists and any other journalist that may be employed in future by any of the the county governments in Kenya showing reasons as to why they continue to subvert the intentions and principles of media freedom, fairness and objectivity, and why action should not be taken against them.
Four, the Media Council should write to their employer, these county governments to demand that the spirit and letter of the constitution which the governors themselves swore on oath to protect is observed. By employing practicing journalists to work in his office to defeat media freedom and fairness in reporting, the governors are clearly contravening the law.
Five, the Media Council should similarly write to the media houses who have employed the journalists to demand their position concerning these journalists and further clarity as to whether they are aware that their employees have other employments elsewhere and are therefore working to defeat media freedom, fairness and objectivity in news reporting.
Finally, the media being an integral part of the development of any society, should be allowed its role to do so. The county governments including all other stakeholders and interest groups should immediately address these concerns or face legal action form the public.
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