The media dilemma

One of the things that are evident is the fact that you have more players (in the media space) than we ordinarily know them. The audience is a very active participant and sometimes the dilemma that journalist face is when you post something online and, in your view, it is not hate speech, but the comments that would follow generate hate speech; or the kind of comments that the audience sends have implications and you find media houses having to be in trouble as a result of that.

So you have more players in that equation and we also have bloggers who have become partly media owners because they are generating content. For us then in media, we will want to appreciate the fact that there are more players that we cannot wish away. Interestingly, the online platforms allow you to do several things. I am reminded of a tweet that was sent by Juliet Omolo of KBC of a job that had been advertised and she was challenging whether the Directorate of Criminal investigation was fair in sending out that tweet when it did because the deadline was too close . . . and as many of you know, she found herself in trouble, called in for questioning and interrogation, and so on.

It just shows us that when we are talking about media and technology and the dilemma that comes with it, there are so many other things that we want to bear in mind. I think some of the other challenges in this kind of environment are the concerns about privacy, data protection and hate speech. Looking at the role of a journalist in an online environment, to what extent do you have the freedom to say what you want to say within the online platform?

In the modern day of two-face journalism, can you be a journalist and work in a media house but when you go online on your face book page, on your tweeter handle, that you can actually be able to post things that are outside of what the profession would actually approve of? The challenge is that journalists need to understand that as a journalist, you cannot have that duality.

It is important for them to understand that once a journalist, you are always a journalist and when you post content online, that content actually reflects the organization that you represent and part of the challenge is that as a journalist, you automatically become a news maker and there is a very thin line between your personal views and the views that your organization represents. So it does not even help when you go on and say the that the views you express are your personal views. There is nothing personal when you are a journalist, whatever you say carries the day.

Therefore, these are some of the views, debates and dilemma that media and technology have presented for media players. So, concerns about privacy, data protection, hate speech, incitement, bullying and copy-right issues should be the focus of regulation. But I think we also want to take into account what kind of regulation (is needed) and also appreciate the environment that the online platform presents, the convergance, the participation.

So if you are to come up with regulations, how does that take care of some of those challenges that are presented in the online platform? — Nancy Booker-PhD, Lecturer MMU

The missing link

For us to look at the general trajectory of our communication policy, particularly in this age of digital media, my contention is that our politics has tended mostly to emphasize what I refer to as the techno-economic benefits of the new age communication technology. We have tended, therefore, to downplay or not give emphasis to the other dimension of this situation, which is what I will refer to as the socio-cultural and democratic benefits of the digital age. . . You see that the government tended to care only to the extent that our management of this emerging new communication landscape is able to feed into our development agenda. Look at vision 2030, for instance; it stresses the fact that we harness ICTs, create a conducive policy environment for ICTs for development. It does not recognize other elements that have to do with how people interact… So what I need to suggest is this, there is a need for more forceful engagements. — Wilson Ugangu, Lecturer, Multi-Media University

On the safety and security of journalists

Terrorism is a global challenge and there have been cases or instances where attacks have happened in the country and our journalists have reported from the front line. What are the challenges that come with reporting from the frontline especially in relation to terrorist attacks? Many of the international media organizations we are familiar with have guidelines on how to report on some of these challenging occurrences. At our own local level, do our media houses have such or do media houses have any safety security planning measures within their own planning and thinking?

Obviously, there is already a safety protocol that was develop; some media houses signed it, committing to do one or two things for their journalists before they go to a hostile environment. Has this been done? In addition to the big signing ceremony at Serena hotel, was this done? So that is the discussion that we will be going through. — Victor Bwire, Deputy CEO, Media Ccuncil of Kenya

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As a journalist, your safety is very important and there are some basic things that you are supposed to know and there are some basic things that you are also supposed to do. As we speak, we are looking at a report released last year 2015 on the safety and security of journalists .Kenya was ranked among the deadliest countries for journalists to work in. in Africa, there were five countries among the top 100 and we had South Sudan, Somalia, Libya, DRC Congo and Kenya. So, that actually is supposed to raise the alarm bells. . . According to the training manuals and the manuals that journalists are supposed to be using, there are some basic things that you are supposed to know. Do you have basic safety training, basic knowledge of First Aid, medical insurance, etc?

Those are the questions that you are supposed to ask because my work as the secretary general of Kenya union of journalist is to protect you and your welfare. . . So, whenever you are signing employment contracts, you must insist on medical insurance. Pre-assignment, you need to carry out a security assessment of wherever you are going so at least you are able to understand the area where you are going. Lastly, you also need to be careful with post coverage counseling. You need to also undergo some counseling after you recover from this, and one area where most media houses find themselves with illegal challenges in court that are happening in the Western countries. — Eric Oduor, Chairman, Kenya Union of Journalists