The Kenya Editors Guild (KEG) has called on the public to help protect journalists as they discharge their duties.
The body has also issued a stern warning to government officials, tycoons and politicians against attacking journalists as they go about their duties.
Speaking at the Mwana Arafa Hall in Lamu Town during a meeting aimed at listening to community representatives, media audiences and opinion leaders on the performance of journalists and the media in general, Kenya Editors Guild President Churchill Otieno said there is need for journalists to be given freedom to do their work objectively.
He called on the Lamu residents to protect journalists.
But Mr Otieno said KEG will not hesitate to take serious action against anyone who threatens or even physically assaults journalists.
“The Kenya Editors’ Guild seeks to defend and promote media freedom and independence in Kenya. This is the only way that will promote quality and ethical journalism in our country by providing a forum for discussion of the challenges facing the media and editors and to network with other professional organisations,” Mr Otieno said.
“The KEG will not allow journalists to be attacked. We are calling on Lamu people and the country at large to help us in ensuring safety of journalists. We’ll not hesitate to take action against those who attack journalists,” said Mr Otieno who also the Nation Media Group Managing Editor, Online and New Content.
His sentiments were echoed by Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) Secretary-General Eric Oduor who insisted that the safety of reporters has currently been compromised by a few people, particularly those in power.
Mr Oduor cited an incident where a nominated MCA Monica Njambi physically assaulted a Standard Media Group Journalist Jane Mugambi.
“You shouldn’t treat journalists as if they’re inferior. As KUJ, we’ve ensured those who attack our reporters face prosecution. Our main agenda is to ensure the public is informed about the real things happening on the ground and that doesn’t mean everyone will be happy with journalists,” said Mr Oduor.
Media Council of Kenya Chief Executive Officer David Omwoyo stressed on the need for county and national governments to establish a good relationship with journalists.
Mr Omwoyo also cautioned journalists against bias in their reporting.
He called on wananchi who have any complaints to forward them to the MCK so that journalists who disobey media ethics are also punished.
“As we work on improving the safety of our reporters, our role is also to ensure journalists also work as per the media code of conduct,” said Mr Omwoyo.
Other members of KEG who toured Lamu include Citizen TV Swahili Editor Jamila Mohamed and Everlyne Kwamboka of the Standard Media Group.
During the meeting, Lamu residents appreciated KEG for recognising the county.
“We’ve never had a meeting that enabled us to interact with the media personnel like today. We appreciate the work of Lamu journalists. We’re looking forward to a continued good relationship between the public and the media,” said Lamu Branch Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya Ustadh Abubakar Shekuwe.