The Action for Transparency project in partnership with the Kenya Editors Guild (KEG), organised a media forum/Press Club on the 26th of March 2019 at the Sarova Stanley Hotel, Nairobi, to discuss Media and Corruption, and its role in promoting public interest.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) – Noordin Haji was the guest speaker. Other speakers included, US Ambassador to Kenya Klye McCarter, Multi-sectoral Initiative Against Corruption Dr. Wilfred Kiboro, Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President Allen Gichuhi, Media Council of Kenya CEO David Omwoyo, NMG’s Editorial Director Mutuma Mathiu and Transparency International Kenya’s Communication and Civic Engagement Officer Abraham Mariita.
Churchill Otieno, KEG president appreciated the timely nature of the meeting, due to the current agenda on corruption that has been taking place in media. He gave a brief history of press club and informed the participants that KEG brings together the most senior print, magazine, broadcast and other electronic media editors including committing themselves to a programme of action to defend and promote media freedom and independence.
US Ambassador to Kenya, Mr. Kyle McCarter highlighted that he stands firm against corruption and urged the media to resist unethical influence. He challenged the participants that it is time to have critical conversations around corruption and how corrupt elements interfere in the media such that they are not able to exercise their freedom freely. He also recognised that the fight against corruption has been facing challenges over the years as those that have been benefiting from this plundering wish nothing more that to make the entire process fail in pursuit of the truth.
The ambassador reiterated that the fight against corruption is in front of all societies today, including the United States and Kenya who should have challenging conversations to address the need for reconciliation among races and tribes. He also urged the media to shield itself from graft and must resist attempts by those who want to influence them in an unethical way. McCarter emphasised that everyone has a role to play and should do their part to dismantle the culture of corruption and appreciated that together we will make a stand and we will make a difference.
Representing TI-Kenya’s perspective, Abraham Mariita highlighted that TI-Kenya encourages media to continue with its role in promoting transparency and accountability by training and investing in investigative journalism in order to increase exposure of corrupt practices in our society.
He mentioned that media should also desist from acts that could compromise its integrity and not allow itself to be pushed to acts of self-censorship by advertisers and government agencies, who withhold ad-revenue because of unfavourable coverage. He also encouraged media managers to balance their quest for profit against acting as a watchdog for the people.
Abraham Mariita added that, under the Action for Transparency project, TI-Kenya has continued to support training of journalists in investigative reporting, and has provided grants and mentorship to several others journalists, who have been able to produce investigative stories on corruption.
Speaking at the same event, Dr. Wilfred Kiboro, stated that corruption consists more of bankruptcy, lack or morals and unethical character. He elaborated that the main roles of the media are; a public watch dog and should hold those in authority to account, and that media is there to support the society and not the government. He raised a major concern that the Kenyan citizens have put “thieves” as leaders due to their political experience as compared to character.
Key guest speaker, DPP Noordin Haji started by saying that Kenya craves for a free and independent media and encouraged media to report freely and independently. Mr. Haji encouraged the media to strive in curbing the vice against all odds responsibly as they are effective and a necessary ally for exposing and preventing corruption. He also pointed out that in a democratic society, it is wise to employ investigative journalism to reveal inequities and violations occurring in the society and highlighted that the members of the 4th estate have the opportunity to educate the public to aid the work in which the investigative journalists have done over the years.
He highlighted that the government has so far recovered more than Ksh16 billion in the ongoing corruption purge which is the amount recovered from April last year and was expected to be much more after the completion of active cases involving State agencies, ministries and county governments.
When asked by a member of the press about his sentiments if the freedom of the press is a constitution imperative, the DPP mentioned that, the media is free to practice their roles freely, but they should do so in a responsible manner.
Another reporter asked what the office of the DPP doing to ensure safety of the journalists. Mr Haji mentioned that his office has not received any complaint and assured the audience that the media should not be afraid to report freely due to threats and if anyone is experiencing threats, his office is willing to receive an official letter and follow it through.
Mr, Samuel Maina (Kenya Editors Guild), ended the meeting by stating that the luncheon was a great step in providing a platform to the media to air out their concerns and encouraged the participants to engage more after the meeting as the fight against corruption is possible if it is done together as a team.
The luncheon meeting was well attended with over 100 participants including; CEO Media Council of Kenya – David Omwoyo, Executive Director (Association of Media Women in Kenya) – Marceline Nyambala, Law Society of Kenya President (LSK) – Allen Gichuhi, US Ambassador to Kenya – H.E Kyle McCarter, EU Ambassador to Kenya – H.E Stephano Dejak, Ambassador for Portugal – H.E. Luisa Fragoso, Australian High Commissioner to Kenya – H. E Alison Chatres, German Embassy (Press officer) – Alexander Puk, senior editors from different media houses including Nation Media Group, Standard Media Group, Royal Media Services, Media Max and Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, Kenya Union of Journalists Secretary General – Eric Oduor, Kenya Correspondents Association Chair – Oloo Janak, journalists, among other media stakeholders.
More photos available HERE.