By Kevin M Mabonga
Media Stakeholders meet on Tuesday, 7th March 2017 at Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi for the launch of Election Reporting Guidelines.
The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), with the support of UNDP’s ‘Strengthening of Electoral Processes in Kenya program and media stakeholders have developed ‘Election Reporting Guidelines’ to guide journalists in covering the 2017 general elections. The document is an improvement of guidelines that were first published in 2012 by MCK.
According to MCK Chief Executive Dr Haron Mwangi, media is a critical player in any electoral process. “An independent, professional, responsible and accountable media is a key prerequisite for free, fair and credible election, which is fundamental for democracy.” noted Dr Mwangi. This, he adds, contributes to the national efforts of ensuring that the country emerges out of the 2017 election process more united.
The guidelines are the result of collaborative efforts among media and various organisations that have a stake in ensuring a credible, valid, free and fair, acceptable, peaceful and democratic general election and its proper coverage by the media. They include: the Media Council of Kenya (MCK), the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), the Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ), the Kenya Editors’ Guild (KEG), the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), Kenya Correspondents Association (KCA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The guidelines reflect the Code of Conduct for the practice of journalism in Kenya, the requirements of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and other pieces of legislation. A wide range of topics are covered, which include: Balance and fairness; Corruption; Gender responsiveness; Diversity and inclusion of people and ideas; Conflict-sensitive journalism; Opinion polls; Equitable coverage; Voter education; Phone-ins; Social media; Safety and security; Fake news
The guidelines are aimed at helping journalists and media practitioners to provide comprehensive, accurate, impartial, balanced and fair coverage of elections, thus enabling the voter to make informed choices. The guidelines will apply to all media houses — whether private, community or State-owned — as well as the authorities involved in or policing the electoral process and, that have voluntarily adopted them.
Chief Executive Officers and top editors of all media houses are expected to sign the document on the launch day as a commitment to adhere to the guidelines.