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MCK Urges Journalists to press on

The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has challenged journalists to effectively continue their role as human rights defenders.

The Council in partnership with Katiba Institute held a one-day engagement with journalists on their critical role in defending human rights.

MCK Director for Media Training and Development Victor Bwire acknowledged the important role that journalists play as human rights defenders as a result of their place in exposing, monitoring and documenting human rights violations.

“Journalists are first responders in disseminating information and therefore we should move from just telling stories but also seeking justice for abuses”, said Mr Bwire.

He encouraged journalists to familiarise themselves with the Access to Information Act of 2016 and to utilise it whenever they are seeking information from public institutions.

“Access to information is very basic and should not be complicated by information holders. Whenever an institution fails to disclose information make an access to information request and copy the Commission on Administrative Justice”, he said.

Mr Bwire also urged journalists to take their mental well-being seriously and seek psychological support especially after covering tragic incidences.

“As journalists let as learn to distance ourselves from stories that we cover and to stop experiencing severe guilt when no measures have been taken to mitigate the issues highlighted”, added Mr Bwire.

MCK Manager for Press Freedom, Safety and Advocacy Dinnah Ondari reiterated the importance of submitting formal information requests, saying it protects them from sources who may want to intimidate them.

“Some sources of information are mischievous and might want to change or deny a story after it has already been published. Even in defamation suits truth is a defense, you will need evidence to cushion you by keeping records of your information requests. This is standard practice outlined in the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism in Kenya on keeping evidence of comments sought on each side of the story”, she said.

She cautioned journalists against being manipulated by sources of information, noting that it poses a challenge to editorial independence.

Courtesy MCK

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