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Media houses join hands to protect journalists during elections

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[Citizen TV Senior political editor Francis Gachuri (centre) during fracas in NASA rally back in 2017. Photo/Courtesy].

Media houses in the country have formed an inter-media team to coordinate the safety and protection of journalists ahead of the 2022 General Election.

Under the patronage of the Media Council of Kenya (MCK), the team comprising of Editorial directors, Editors-in-chief and Heads of content, will collectively develop practical working modalities and protocols to ensure the protection of journalists and media workers in the field during the electioneering period.

This initiative is a response to the sharp increase in threats to journalists and media workers during this period.

MCK has identified disparities on safety of journalists, including situations where policies of some media houses do not allow their journalists to evacuate their counterparts from other media houses during distress.

In some cases, certain news sources, including politicians, have been found to intimidate and harass journalists from specific media houses as the rest watch helplessly.

“The Council believes that the protection of journalists while in the course of duty and especially ahead of the 2022 General Election requires collective action and goodwill from senior editors to commit to prioritise and provide leadership on the matter,” read part of the statement signed by MCK Chief Executive Officer and Secretary Mr David Omwoyo.

Besides developing a protocol of inter-media intervention and evacuation of journalists in distress, the team will also inspire journalists in the field to defend and protect their freedoms and privileges including that of their colleagues actively.

“The team will also provide reasonable coverage of matters of press freedom violations whenever relevant stakeholders and actors raise concern and propose action to duty bearers including government leaders and political aspirants on the need to protect media privileges and spell clear consequences of violating the same,” added the CEO.

The team that is chaired by Royal Media Services (RMS) Editorial Director Joe Ageyo also includes Nation Media Group’s Mutuma Mathiu, Royal Media Services’ Pamela Asigi, Standard Group’s Ochieng Rapuro, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation’s Samuel Maina and Millicent Awuor, Radio Africa Group’s Paul Ilado, Capital Group’s Bernard Momanyi, Mediamax’s Ellen Wanjiru, TV47’s Mohamud Abdullahi and veteran journalist Ken Bosire.

“The composition of the team is at the highest level of newsroom leadership given that decisions concerning safety and protection of journalists require administrative decisions for effectiveness,” disclosed Mr Omwoyo.