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New journalism guidelines set to crackdown on impostors

Thursday October 3 2019

Media Council of Kenya Chief Executive David Omwoyo

Media Council of Kenya Chief Executive David Omwoyo speaking during an accreditation sensitisation meeting for media stakeholders at the Sarova Stanley Hotel in Nairobi on October 3, 2019. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JUMA NAMLOLA
By JUMA NAMLOLA
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Media practitioners have fourteen days to submit their views on proposed accreditation guidelines.

Media Council of Kenya (MCK) wants journalists, media owners and other stakeholders to submit in writing their opinions regarding the amendments it says are aimed at curtailing rampant impersonation and corruption.

MCK chief executive, Mr David Omwoyo told stakeholders during a sensitisation meeting at the Stanley Hotel, Nairobi Thursday that the current accreditation system was open to manipulation by some quacks who masquerade as active journalists.

“We have received enormous complaints from both the public and some major media houses on the conduct of some people we have accredited to practice journalism. As a result, we have decided to tighten the loopholes,” said Mr Omwoyo.

EXTORTION

In the proposed regulations, a journalist shall be accredited only through editors (in case of those employed by media houses), and the accreditation card shall be surrendered to those editors when terminated from work.

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MCK found out that people who left certain media houses long time ago, were operating as employees of the same, while brandishing their cards to access press conferences where they end up extorting money.

“Extortion has become the order of the day in this profession. It is done by some people who use our accreditation cards. Therefore, even as you give your feedback, bear in mind that we intend to give accreditation only to deserving cases,” he said.

Among proposed conditions for accreditation is that a person should have a diploma or degree in journalism or media studies.

CRACKDOWN

“All talk-show hosts, comedians and cartoonists must undergo mandatory training on Ethics and Media Laws before they are allowed to practice in newsrooms,” said Mr Omwoyo.

The crackdown will be extended to colleges and institutions training people in journalism, such that only trained journalists shall be allowed to train journalists.

“You will not see a mechanic teaching doctors or a doctor teaching lawyers. Why is it that anybody and everybody teaches journalists? We have a case of a college which fails practising journalists in exams because the lecturers feel intimidated. This must stop,” he said.

Some journalists in the meeting raised issues on withdrawal of accreditation card when a journalist is dismissed from work.

Kenya Correspondents Association chairman William Oloo Janak said since renewal is annual, there should be a better criteria of treating journalists terminated from work midway.

“Journalists pay for accreditation annually. It will unfair to withdraw their accreditation when they are sacked four or five months later. In my opinion, withdrawing is a bit harsh. The card should be transferrable to a new employer,” said Mr Janak.