Media Council’s stand on journalists in politics

Media Council of Kenya Board chairman Charles Kerich with chief executive officer Haron Mwangi when they addressed the Press on the coverage of elections yesterday ahead of the 2017 General Election. (PHOTO: WILBERFORCE OKWIRI/ STANDARD)

The Media Council of Kenya wants media houses to take action on journalists who have expressed intention to join politics and contest in next year's General Election.

MCK Board chair Charles Kerich yesterday said media houses should let go of all 'politicians' in the newsrooms or any who has declared affiliation with a political movement.

Mr Kerich said some journalists are using social media to express their political stands which can be out rightly duplicated in political coverage thus compromising the fairness of news.

He said media houses should also come up and implement social media policies to this effect.

"Media houses must let go of politicians in newsrooms, journalists and practitioners that have declared affiliation to political parties, movements, groupings or indicated their intentions to vie for elective positions in 2017," said Mr Kerich.

Not ignoring that journalists, like all other citizens, have rights to be active on social media and by extension enjoy freedom of expression, Kerich said they should draw the line between personal opinion in private space and walls, and views that suggest that a journalist is biased.

Code of ethics

"The Code of Ethics for the Practice of Journalism in Kenya is very clear on this and related conflict of interest matters. It is unrealistic for media practitioners to spew biased opinions on their social media pages, and expect not to be viewed as partisan by people who expect to be covered fairly," Kerich said.

He said the council will start withdrawing accreditation of such journalists which means they will not be authorised to practice as journalists in the country.

"All parties in a political contest deserve fair coverage. There are already claims in some counties that journalists have been influenced to the extent that some political competitors do not enjoy fair coverage, and only make it to the media with negative stories," noted Kerich.

But at the same time, MCK Chair raised concerns about increasing incidents of journalists being physically attacked and their equipment destroyed and called for an end to the threats, intimidation and attacks on journalists.

MCK Chief Executive Haron Mwangi cautioned media houses against giving extensive coverage for a particular political party.