The Kenya Editors Guild (KEG) has launched a magazine that will offer an opportunity for industry practitioners and stakeholders to articulate issues affecting the media and journalism.
The Kenya Journalism Review (KJR) was unveiled on Thursday at a Nairobi hotel during the opening of the second Annual Media Summit organised by the Media Council of Kenya.
Kenya Editors’ Guild President Churchill Otieno said during the launch that the Kenya Journalism Review offers an opportunity to interrogate and write on various issues affecting the media industry.
“The Kenya Journalism Review is a publication for serious, well researched and in-depth articles on issues affecting the media and journalism. We will use the Review as a reference for good, ethical and professional practice given the knowledge and expertise of the various authors. The publication belongs to journalists and they will be given the space and autonomy to write on whatever issue they wish as long as it’s about what is affecting the industry,” said Mr Otieno.
Among the issues covered in the first Issue include: media funding, regulation, journalism training, audience measurement, crime reporting, and newsroom leadership.
With a helping hand to struggling media as its slogan, KJR, the first of its kind in the industry, also seeks to share opportunities and offer guidance to journalists.
Contributors include current and former editors, scholars and industry and other experts.
The publication will be guided by an Editorial Board, which currently comprises serving and
former editors and scholars: Joseph Odindo (chairman), Churchill Otieno, Wangethi Mwangi,
Mutuma Mathiu, Macharia Gaitho, Ochieng Rapuro, Pamella Sittoni, Christine Nguku, Joe
Ageyo, George Nyabuga, Arthur Okwemba and Rosalia Omungo.
US ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter, who launched the magazine, acknowledged the power of the media in fostering transparency and accountability.
He noted that the Constitution of Kenya 2010 guarantees the freedom and rights of the media but urged journalists to exercise them with responsibility, adding it was important to maintain credibility.
He also challenged the media to be innovative by adopting new business models so as to reduce reliance on government advertising.
At the same time, the envoy said that media shutdown will not solve issues between media houses and the government. He was referring to the shutdown of three TV stations in 2017 after they defied an order not to broadcast live the mock swearing in of Raila Odinga after the disputed presidential contest.
Kyle said the US will continue to support media freedom and independence in the country through, among others, training of journalists. In addition, Kyle said women journalists are also benefiting from mentorship programmes.
He asked journalists to be courageous and adhere to the truth saying they can expect the support of both the US and Canada.
Youth unemployment a ticking time bomb
However, he challenged the media to report accurately and impartially and maintain high ethical standards.
“We must desist from taking handouts from the people we rant about in the media,” he said.
The envoy decried rampant thievery in the country, saying it is denying young people opportunities to prosper in life.
“Young people deserve much better. They are the future of Kenya but they can also become the biggest problem for Kenya,” he said, adding there is need to foster a rejuvenated economy that would provide them with work so that they can provide for their families.
McCarter said Kenya is endowed with enormous human and natural resources that can wean it of foreign aid but added thievery is getting in the way.
He said the US will continue to invest in the county by promoting security, trade and prosperity of the youth.
On safety and security, he said Kenya will continue to benefit from military aid, support to fight terrorism and security exchanges.
The session was also attended by, among others, Canada High Commissioner Lisa Stadelbauer, Media Council of Kenya CEO David Omwoyo and Nation Media Group CEO Stephen Gitagama.
Ms Stadelbauer expressed concern over threats journalists continue to face, noting that in the past year at least 99 journalists have been killed, 348 imprisoned and 60 held hostage globally.
She said the media has an important role to play in fostering the rule of law, diversity and accountable decision making.
The envoy said Canada would continue to empower women journalists, saying the country has feminist international aid and foreign policies.
She also stressed the need to ensure safety of journalists, noting that recently, Canada in collaboration with the UK held an international conference where governments pledged to ensure the same.
The two also established a Global Media Development Fund to support safety of journalists and investigative journalism initiatives.
However, she also challenged the media to avoid corruption and report the truth.