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Media urged to remain neutral and objective ahead of elections

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Nation Media Group CEO Stephen Gitagama, says the media has a central role to play by remaining neutral and objective in dispensing content.

Speaking during the second international conference on peace and justice held at Mount Kenya University, Gitagama said the media has an obligation to drive issue-based campaigns and act as an election watchdog.

“For citizens to make well-informed decisions in the forthcoming election, there must be a free, reliable and trusted media that has the ability to influence independent and diverse views,” he said.

He said the media plays a critical role in bringing stakeholders together to achieve peace, especially during this volatile electioneering period.

“This forum is timely as we head for the polls when our political landscapes are volatile. We are working with journalists and other entities to ensure peace and unity is maintained,” he said.

Calls for peace and patriotism dominated the International Conference on Peace, Security and Social Enterprise that took place at Mount Kenya University (MKU) main campus in Thika town last week, with speakers underlining the need for unity and tolerance as Kenya goes to the polls. The theme of the summit was ‘The role of universities, public and private sectors in peace building for socio-economic development’.

The CEO pointed out that the media has an obligation to drive issue-based campaigns and act as the election watchdog.

“For citizens to make well-informed decisions in an election, there must be a free, reliable and trusted media that has the ability to influence independent and diverse views. The media has the power to lower political temperatures through civic education and dissemination of credible information, as well as avoiding falling for fake news,” he noted.

Christine Nguku-Katta, who is the assistant director of Training and Curriculum Development at the Media Council of Kenya, said MCK has created strong and strict reporting guidelines to the media ahead of the polls to ensure they report objectively.
She said MCK has been organising forums for journalists both at national and county levels, to educate them on political reporting skills and etiquette.

MKU, on the other hand has been holding peace forums to educate Kenyans on the need for peace as the country transitions to new leadership.
The university has also been forging partnerships with the private and public sectors to equip its students with requisite skills needed in the job market.

A recent MCK survey indicated that 58pc of Kenyans consume TV content on a typical day which translates to approximately 16.7 million Kenyans aged above 15 years.

The survey further reveled that 64pc of the respondents use social media for entertainment, 59pc for News and information and 53 percent for networking.

Across the country, radio content is consumed by 74 per cent of all respondents in the country which is about 21.5 million Kenyans above 15 years.
According to Gitagama, “In the two years, social media has grown by 14pc while TV and radio have decreased by 12pc and five percent respectively,” the Nation boss said.





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