The Media Council of Kenya has urged journalists in the North Rift region to be professional and advocate for war against banditry.
Media Council of Kenya Director for Media Training and Development Mr Victor Bwire noted that journalists play a key role in the success of the ongoing operation to bring about lasting peace in parts of Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot, Turkana, Laikipia, Baringo and Samburu counties which are currently bandit prone.
“Are we offering any solution in our reporting, or we are mere stenographers of events? We must do these stories in a manner that adds value and helps bring about a solution. To do this we must immerse ourselves in the story and research on it. This will help us report in a more grounded manner”, Mr Bwire said while sensitising journalists on conflict-sensitive reporting.
Mr Bwire urged journalists to take a broad-based approach in their reporting, digging up causes which he said are multidimensional and not merely cattle-rustling.
He said: “Journalists must help the country answer questions such as how did cattle rustling start? What lessons can we draw from other countries such as Uganda?”
He emphasised that journalists should shun negative branding of communities and go beyond the obvious reportage and be the voice of the voiceless. He further urged them to exercise keenness on their security while reporting in conflict zones.
“Your security as journalist comes first. Security intelligence and understanding the culture of the affected people will inform major decisions you make as a journalist. It is also important to understand the economic culture of a people and its connection to security. Go for neutral voices that can contribute to peacebuilding”, remarked Mr Bwire.
Uasin Gishu County Commissioner Edison Nyale noted the importance of media in enhancing peace and cohesion.
“Invest in reporting matters of national interest in the country. We should remain relevant in our reports and shun the dissemination of information that glorifies conflicts. Consultative and objective reporting will contribute to peace and cohesion that we all yearn for,” said Dr Nyale.
The two-day training targeting 30 journalists comes on the back of the ongoing efforts by the government to flush out bandits in the North Rift area. The Council plans to hold an online training to include more journalists from the region.