Wetang'ula pledges his support for reforms and self-regulation of media

From left: Daniel Kalinaki, Zubeida Kananu, and Moses Wetangula during the 6th Editors Annual Convention in Mombasa. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula has vowed to support media reforms and ensure conformity with emerging changes.

Wetang’ula said yesterday he would back draft amendments in Parliament from the media practitioners as part of self-regulation.

He was addressing members of the Kenya Editors Guild (KEG) during the 6th annual editors convention at the Pride Inn Paradise resort in Shanzu, Mombasa County.

“The Constitution allows Kenyans including journalists to sit down and draft legislation and take it to the Speaker, and it can be passed into good laws,” he said.

The convention was addressed by the KEG president Zubeidah Kananu, Deputy Chinese Ambassador to Kenya and Deputy Chief of Mission Zhang Zhizhong and the President of the Eastern African Editors Society Daniel Kalinaki among others.

Wetang’ula said he was ready to champion laws that would improve media performance including artificial intelligence and robotics.

The Speaker pledged to work closely with KEG to strengthen the performance of the media and ensure resilience, adding that he would not watch any media house collapse and cause negative ramifications in the sector including job losses.

He called for a vibrant media, urging journalists to name and shame leaders whose actions do not conform with Chapter 6 of the Constitution on leadership and integrity.

The theme for this year’s convention is “Re-imagining Tomorrow’s Journalism Today: Issues, Perspectives, and Realities.”

Ms Kananu said in Kenya, journalism confronts an existential threat due to various factors that include the challenging economic conditions forcing media companies to issue profit warnings.

“The delicate balance between profit motives and public interest becomes crucial. We must ask ourselves tough questions about the cost and extent of State largesse towards the public good,” she noted.

Kananu urged the government to champion a media landscape that benefits all, recognising that while regimes may change, Kenyan society endures and demands better governance.

“Our collective experience from the last general election underscores the media’s pivotal role amid demanding circumstances,” she said.

Kananu said the once-revered fourth estate faces challenges from various quarters, including technology, a weakened international system, overwhelming national cynicism, and resurgent authoritarianism.

“Now, more than ever, the world needs bold journalism that speaks truth to power, awakens the nation’s conscience, and embodies the aspirations of the people,” she said.

The KEG President observed that media associations in Kenya, under the Kenya Media Sector Working Group, collaborate to address urgent threats to media freedom.

She said journalists’ safety, both physical and in the digital space, remained a pressing concern.

“We call for an immediate halt to violations, emphasising journalists’ constitutional right to carry out their professional work,” she said.

Ms Kananu welcomed the government’s initiatives to foster media sustainability including the establishment of a task force by the Ministry of ICT and Digital Economy in which she and the executive director of the Eastern Africa Editors Society (EAES) Mr Churchil Otieno participate.

The task force has been set up to review existing laws and policies, especially in the rapidly evolving landscape of technology and cybersecurity. 

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