Residents of Turkana County have vowed to protect and build a mutual relationship with journalists in the vast pastoral region to make reporting of issues affecting them easier.
The locals spoke on Saturday at Ceamo Hotel in Lodwar Town during a town hall meeting on 'Taking the Media back to the People', an initiative of the Kenya Editors Guild.
The forum was as a result of increased threats and attacks on journalists that were witnessed last year.
In January 2018, four journalists — while working on a story to highlight the tourism potential of Lake Turkana — were attacked and their equipment destroyed.
A few days later eight journalists who had been invited by Kanu party members for a press conference were attacked by a Kanu faction, injuring two and destroying a camera and a voice recorder.
Swift intervention by the Media Council of Kenya (MCK), Judiciary, politicians, Directorate of Criminal Investigations and media awareness programmes have increased journalists' safety in the county.
MCK training and media development manager Christine Nguku asked journalists to ensure they comply with mandatory annual membership renewal with the council to ensure professionalism, as she urged the public to always work with accredited journalists.
Ms Nguku said beating a journalist was not an option and asked locals to lodge complains with the MCK on individual journalists for investigation and immediate legal action if found culpable.
The team also trained journalists on safety, fake news and data journalism.
Locals complained of minimal space given to issues affecting them.
Mr Gideon Lokieny from Kibish village located 400km away from Lodwar tTown decried minimal reporting on his locality that is prone to attacks from neighbouring South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Turkana Media Association chairman Emmanuel Cheboit, however, urged community leaders in far flanked areas, elected leaders county and national government officials to always liaise with local journalists in case of issues and concerns for prompt reportage.
Mr Cheboit singled out lack of public transport and poor mobile phone network connectivity as critical issues affecting newsgathering in the county.
Editors guild legal and regulatory affairs secretary Mark Agutu acknowledged locals who appreciated how media directly impacted their lives after their stories were highlighted.
Mr Agutu appreciated Ms Askar Mboya who noted that through Nation Media Group, her granddaughter, an orphan who emerged Turkana’s top girl in last year's KCPE, help after the Nation highlighted her plight.