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Media Council faults coverage of Father Kariuki's death

 The late Father Joseph Kariuki. [Kamore Maina, Standard]

Days after word went round that Father Joesph Kariuki, a Catholic priest, had died hours after checking into a hotel with a female companion, the Media Council of Kenya has faulted the coverage of the incident citing sensationalisation.

Through a statement released on Tuesday, July 11, 2023, the Council said there were several inconsistencies in how the story was reported and the dignity of the subjects was violated.

"The use of sensational words and derogatory terms was insensitive and uncalled for, violating the dignity of the subjects involved and resulting in invasion of the individual's privacy.

"A review of the media coverage shows inconsistencies in reporting facts of the story, sensational headlines and breaches of the code of conduct on accuracy, fairness, integrity, accountability, obscenity, taste and tone," read the statement in part.

The council called for caution and empathy in the coverage of the story, with strict adherence to journalistic ethos.

This comes just a day after MCSK CEO Ezekiel Mutua also called out a leading media house over what he termed as an 'insensitive' headline on the same story.

Mutua said it was wrong of the public to mock a dead person, adding that journalists ought to be properly trained on how to handle such news items.

"One of the most sickening and callous headlines I have ever seen in news was "Nzi kafia kidondani" on one of the leading TV stations at 7pm yesterday.

"It was referring to the death of a catholic priest in Nyeri. This is heartless, insensitive and unprofessional in the extreme. You can't mock a dead person that way no matter the cause of his death...He's human, deserving of respect. He has relatives and friends who are mourning him," he wrote in part.

As per a police report obtained by The Standard, Father Kariuki arrived at Monalisa Hotel in Murang'a on the evening of Saturday, June 8, in the company of Ruth Nduhi, a 32-year-old woman.

The couple is said to have spent the night at the hotel but on Sunday morning, the priest experienced health complications, leading his partner to seek assistance from the hotel staff.

The priest was rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.

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