Journalists in Uasin Gishu County and its environs have a reason to smile, thanks to the opening of a centre in Eldoret town to facilitate their operations.
The Eldoret Media Hub established by the Uasin Gishu Journalists Association through a Media Council of Kenya grant provides equipment and working space for local reporters and correspondents.
Chief Guest at the launch Principal Secretary, State Department of Broadcasting and Telecommunication at the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology Ms Esther Koimett said lack of adequate working space and appropriate equipment has compromised professionalism in the media.
“Many of the grassroots media outlets, for instance, do not have proper operational bases, with some operating from makeshift newsrooms. This has compromised journalistic standards and safety of journalists”, said the PS via a recorded speech.
She added that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a great impact on the media with many journalists rendered jobless because of dwindling incomes by media houses.
“In addition to the devastating effects of the pandemic, journalists across the country work under harsh conditions, including lack of appropriate equipment, safety gear and conducive working space in addition to means of movement”, she said.
“Moreover, the closure of offices of several media houses have forced many journalists to operate from cyber cafes, hotels and even social places. This has exposed them to many risks, and in turn hampering performance of their duties”.
The PS affirmed the Ministry’s commitment to support Kenyan journalists to overcome some of the challenges they face in the line of duty.
“Some of our key interventions include support to grassroots media houses and media interest groups to cushion them against the effects of the pandemic. The ministry is committed to supporting the Media Diversity Fund as a way of enabling the industry to respond to the current financial and professional constraints faced by our media industry”, she said.
The PS termed the launch of the Eldoret Media Hub a major contributor to efforts aimed at according journalists ample space to undertake their rightful duties of informing, educating and entertaining.
She added that with a conducive working environment and appropriate tools, journalists in Eldoret and its environs will now be well placed to report objectively, especially in the approaching electioneering period.
Ms Koimett commended the Media Council of Kenya for its efforts in interceding in areas that hamper professionalism in the media such as lack of working space and tools for media work.
Media Council of Kenyaa CEO Mr David Omwoyo said ensuring better working environment and tools form a key component of the Council’s mandate to promote professionalism in media.
“In line with our strategic objective to promote and safeguard media freedom and independence, the Council implements various activities aimed at enhancing support to the media; to facilitate performance of their duties. Accordingly, we intervene in areas that hamper professionalism in the media such as lack of working space and appropriate tools for media work”, he said.
County Government of Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor Hon Daniel Chemno announced the County Government’s support to the media hub, saying it will facilitate training and mentoring of upcoming journalists at the facility.
The meeting was also attended by Director of the Government Advertising Agency and Media Council Member Mr Gwaro Ogaro who called upon the media to uphold professionalism and avoid hate speech.
The support towards establishment of the Hub is part of the Media Council of Kenya Grants Project run under the Africa Media Academy which focuses on development of training standards, building capacity of journalists and ensuring professional journalism practice.
The Council has also extended operational support to 40 media professional groups that it works closely with across the country including the Kenya Editors Guild, Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), Kenya Union of Journalist, Kenya Correspondents Association, Association of Freelance Journalists in Kenya, Association of Devolution Journalists, Digital Broadcasters Association and Press clubs/associations drawn from across the country.