Third Eye

Protect freedom of media, expression

Monday, May 3rd, 2021 00:00 |
Media personnel at work. Photo/Courtesy

The concept of freedom should not be contentious, but it has been, in many ways, one of which is within and for the media.

Discussions have been held over how much freedom the press both traditional and alternative should have.

And while some of the discussions are blatant and in open spaces, there are those that are covert and usually in spaces of power that are inaccessible to many. 

Moves to curtail media freedom in various ways including mistreatment, arrest and murder of journalists have followed such discussions.

Reporters without Borders ranked Kenya at 102 in media freedom this year, almost the same position as last year when the country was ranked 103.

Some issues the organisation said curtailed Kenyan media include private ownership that censored news production, political influence as well as violence and abuses against journalists, some of who investigate corruption and human rights abuses.

And thus brings the issue that if the powers that be are daring enough to curtail the media, what would they not do to members of the public who dare speak out against their excesses?

As Kenya joins the world in observing Press Freedom Day today under the theme ‘Information as a Public Good’, it is important the public calls for and supports independence of the media, as it is, in many instances, the mouthpiece of the public.

It is through media — both legacy and digital — that various issues are raised and the status quo is challenged.  

It is also vital that the government ensures media operate freely and independently.

Laws that limit operations of the press, including those that curtail their economic independence, must be fought consistently. 

And regulations that create room for journalists to be summoned by all and sundry or those that expose journalists to public and private threats should be repealed.

With an environment where the press can be free and independent, there would be increased trust in the media as well as confidence by the people that the information they have received does not have any undue influence that would jeopardise their lives. 

It is essential especially now that the country is headed towards elections next year.

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