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Be sensitive to matters of national security in your coverage, media told

COUNTIES
By MAUREEN ABWAO | June 12th 2014

Nairobi, Kenya: A study by the State committee that monitors how the local Press covers issues of national security suggests that the media is hostile to security agencies.

The findings also note that the media is insensitive to security reports hence compromising national security.

The National Steering Committee on Media Monitoring says the local media should avoid elaborate coverage of matters on national security that could give leverage to terrorists and criminal elements.

Speaking Wednesday during a weekly media briefing held in Nairobi, the Director of Public Communications and Chair of the National Steering Committee on Media Monitoring Mary Ombara said the study on media coverage on security issues for the last four months revealed a pattern of deliberate negative reporting on insecurity in the country.

Ms Ombara said according to the study, the print media dedicated up to 10 per cent of its editorial space to negative coverage of the country’s security. In the month of May, the study found that the media focused on stories that portrayed the security agencies in a negative state.

In order to improve the local media’s coverage on national insecurity, the committee wants the Press to responsibly report on issues of national security.

“We want the media to be careful in their reporting. This is not in a bid to muzzle the media but to just ensure what they report does not cause more harm to the public than already done,” said Ombara.

The committee also wants the local Press to borrow a leaf from the international media where the media agrees with authorised security agencies on areas of need of specific coverage so as not to compromise national security.

Ombara pointed out that terrorists use raw security information drawn from local media and individual blog postings to their advantage.

The committee further recommended that the local media should critically analyse its approach to coverage of terror issues so as to avoid exposing the country’s warfare strategy to the benefit of the criminal gangs and terrorists.

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