Posted May 1, 2021 9:18 pm by

As the World Press Freedom Day approached, one of the questions that lingered in my mind was what the day really meant to me.

The day holds significant meaning to every journalist, but its meaning takes a different expression depending on who you talk to.

The event is an opportunity to impress upon governments on the need to respect press freedom, ponder on issues of professional ethics in the industry and support journalists who are a target of repression. It is also a day to  remember those who have lost their lives in the line of duty, unearthing the truth in the darkest corners.

Press Freedom is becoming more restricted and this year’s World Press Freedom index, compiled by Reporters without Borders shows that journalism is blocked in more than 73 countries and partly restrained in 59 others. This essentially means press freedom is compromised in  7 out of 10 countries appraised.

Closer home, Kenya was ranked 102, a poor standing for a country with good legislation on freedom of speech, freedom of the media and access to information under Section 33, 34 and 35 of the Constitution.

The shrinking media space should be a cause of concern for all stakeholders and there is need for concerted effort to ensure that journalists remain free to hold power to account and are given access to information they need in pursuit of this goal.

The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day Information as a Public Good accentuates the media’s expansive role in the society of countering misinformation and disinformation and its duty in promoting sustainable development.

In  an era where misinformation outpaces the truth, journalists must be in the forefront in providing verified information to the public.

One way journalists can do so is by ensuring they tell the “whole story”.  With many things going wrong in our society,  it is easy to focus our attention on the negative, after all we mirror our environment.  However, time is ripe for media in Kenya to re-examine its function in society, given the shrinking revenues trigged by the digital disruption and growing need to improve information literacy by ensuring the public appreciates the value of journalism as a public good.  

The media cannot step into these shoes effectively if people are avoiding watching news. A 2020 study by Reuters  Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University showed that 22 per cent of people were actively avoiding news, Read More…