Media Council's attempt to prefect media wrong, undermines democracy
SEE ALSO :Annual media summit kicks offThey draw a substantive budget allocation from the State too. At what point does the MCK therefore exercise independence and autonomy in terms of working for the good of the media sector? At what point will the MCK stand up against State excesses and defend the interests of journalists? Is the current MCK Board and Secretariat going to bury the right of journalists to enjoy freedom of association without necessarily seeking its objectives? The timing is suspect as Government austerity measures bite. Could it be that MCK has to compete for funds? That playing gate keeper to funding opportunities is the new found strategy that will keep independent media associations, seen as a threat to MCK at bay? Collective process Third, the communique claims that the MCK mandate to promote ethical and professional standards is going to “develop necessary structures and processes that will enable organised and collaborative interventions within the sector”. Globally, the standard practice of bringing about industry consultation is to set up an inquiry led by a team usually seconded by associations and not appointed secretly by a state funded body like the MCK. Such a review committee does not need to be a club of “eminent media professionals” as interpreted by the MCK but elected/seconded persons by media houses/groupings and associations. The terms of reference need not to drawn and decided by MCK but developed through a collective process that ensures a 360-degree view of the issue(s) is captured. The terms of reference also need to be based on an industry-wide study that distills concerns and benchmarks the issues raised with appropriate references of incidences of breach of public trust and even complaints raised or cases ongoing in court. The scope should be futuristic and inculcate analysis of big data trends in curating the practice, needs and operational scope of media groupings in future. In conclusion, the MCK Communique, despite the good intentions, falls short of what media practitioners would expect from MCK in terms of structuring the inquiry on media associations and groupings. MCK would do well to rescind this communique and start a collaborative conversation with stakeholders to obtain consensus from the wider sector. Mr Wanyonyi is a specialist in Media, Foresight and War Studies and serves as the Chairperson of the Disaster Risk Reduction Network of African Journalist.
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