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Journalists told to embrace fairness when covering political events

As the country gears towards the electioneering period, members of the press have been challenged to be impartial when covering and reporting political related events.

Chairperson of Kenya Editors’ Guild Macharia Gaitho has said some journalists were influenced by material benefits to take sides when it comes to politics.

Partial reporting, Gaitho said, may plunge the country into chaos, urging all the journalists who cover politicians to embrace a high level of professionalism.

The chairperson spoke during training of journalists in Murang’a on Thursday on an occasion organized by the Kenya Editors’ Guild.

He observed that by fair reporting, cohesion and tranquility in the country could be embraced, saying media could be misused by politicians to perpetrate hate speech.

“Every politician has the right to fair coverage. But sometimes we witness some journalists attached to a particular political leader, which is wrong,”

– Macharia Gaitho

Gaitho who is also a media consultant said taking sides on matters involving politics may expose journalists to attacks and intimidation urging media houses to come out and state why they should support a particular political group.

“In America and other developed countries, media houses openly state why they are supporting a political party or person. Here in Kenya, when a particular media is associated with a particular political leader, journalists in the field are exposed to threats and attacks from opponents of the leader their media house is supporting.

“So it is possible the media in Kenya can as well support a political side and state clearly why it is supporting that party so as to save their journalists from attacks,” explained Gaitho.

He underscored the need to train journalists on matters of elections to help them report what is right and avoid giving unclear information which may be misinterpreted by some politicians.

Speaking during the same occasion, a member of Media Council Sammy Muraya cautioned members of the press from being influenced by money during the electioneering period.

Muraya noted that matters to do with journalists’ safety needed to be given priority observing that biased reporting exposed the scribes to physical attacks and threats.

“Politicians are not your friends. They only need you because you can cover them. Always let principles of journalism guide you when you are doing your work,” Muraya told the journalists.

An official with Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Ms. Faith Mugo said there is a need to exploit the media in educating Kenyans on matters to do with elections.

Mugo observed that some mistakes people made during elections could be avoided if civic education was well conducted.

“In some years back, the number of rejected and spoiled votes used to be quite high. Currently, the number is going down and as IEBC we will partner with media houses to educate people on what they are required to do during elections,” she added.

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