The requirement for journalists covering Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Nkaissery’s burial to be accredited has touched off an emotional debate among members of the fourth estate, with some terming it ridiculous.
According to a statement by the National Government Communication Centre (NGCC), an agency that coordinates central government communication activities, media intending to cover any part of the funeral service will require accreditation to have access.
“Press attending the event should register for accreditation at [email protected] by 2pm, Wednesday 12th of July, 2017,” says the statement.
NGCC, which was established in 2016, is charged with “ensuring consistent, cohesive National Government messaging across platforms and channels, and connecting the general public to the work of Government.”
Journalists have dismissed this requirement and wondered whether even mourners attending the funeral would need to be accredited or even how accrediting the media will be effected.
This will be the first time media is required to be accredited to cover a state funeral. Even the funeral of former Vice President Wamalwa Kijana, who was given a state burial, did not require media accreditation nor even former vice-president George Saitoti, who died on 10th June 2012 while serving as interior minister as well.
Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) Secretary General Eric Oduor did not hide his shock. “This is taking the joke too far. Accreditation to cover a funeral?” he wondered.
Journalists are required to provide name, name of media house and ID number and the organizing committee has put a limit on the number of journalists from each media house due to limited space: 4 for TV stations, 4 for print and one for radio as space.
“Please note, strictly, ONLY accredited press will be allowed access for coverage,” says NGCC.
Meanwhile, broadcasting houses will need to provide details of their outside broadcast vans and accredit their crews as well. But what has also raised eyebrows is the suggestion that a live feed will be provided to all media houses for the actual ceremony.
This could mean no TV station will beam the event live directly from the venue but will rely on a central life feed, in what is being seen as a way to control coverage of the funeral.
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KUJ chairman Juma Kwayera says State proving live feed would be a way of covering up sensitive speeches and other activities at the event. Nkaissery’s death, coming just before an election and crowded in mystery, is likely to attract emotional and conspiratorial talk and the government is keen on muzzling this. “Crudely put, a cover-up is a must,” Mr Kwayera.
An autopsy performed by government and family pathologists say the CS died from a heart attack but the results have been taken with a pinch of salt by many Kenyans and their leaders.
Mr Jim Onyango, a former Nation Media Group reporter, commented on Facebook: “So if a live feed is provided for all broadcast media, does it mean that TV channels will not independently produce their feed/videos? Won’t this control what the public will view/hear?”