The Standard Blog

Why journalists should reject Kibaki award

Published on 16/12/2008

By Dan Okoth

A few years ago, a group of journalists were awarded prizes for various activities in the media. Witnessed and partly sponsored by corporate firms, diplomatic institutions and private individuals, the Journalist of the Year Awards (Joya) turned into a rueful function that marked one of the lowest ebbs of the profession in Kenya.

Naturally, several conscientious journalists rejected the awards and returned trophies, electronic goods and cheques to the organisers of the function. One of the main players, Ezekiel Mutua, is the Director of Information.

That same ministry sponsored the Kenya Communications (amendment) Bill 2008, which, by design, gave the minister for Information more powers to control the media.

Coming after the March 2006 raid on The Standard, and incident for which the government has neither apologised nor explained, it is ridiculous that the Ministry of Information seeks more powers to control the media.

In the 2006 incident, then minister for Internal Security at the time, Mr John Michuki, said: “When you rattle a snake, you must prepare to be bitten.”

A lot has been said about the necessity for the media to regulate themselves. The Media Council, a body established through an Act of Parliament, has a lot of its responsibilities taken over by the minister for Information.

If indeed the Media Council was created in the spirit of self-regulation, there is no need for the minister to use the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) to do what falls in the ambit of the Council.

On that note, it is fair for the members of the Media Council to cede their stated responsibilities to the CCK and the minister for Information.

At the same time, as much as possible, the journalists who received Head of State commendation for playing their part as journalists should kindly decline to accept them.

Unless they were rewarded for duties outside journalism, it would be paradoxical, ironic and self-defeating to accept the commendations when those in the same profession coming after them will not have the opportunity to gain the same honour, their tools having been taken away.


1. On Wednesday December 17, 2008, 1:25 AM , sam ndukwe, United States wrote:

  Journalists should not acknowledge nor accept the commendations by whatever means. Accepting the awards will show solidarity of the ‘murder’ and ‘burial’ of press freedom by the government through the tenth parliament. Freedom of speech and press were some of the causes of the French revolution in 1789. We would appreciate a situation where by there is zero gagging of press freedom.


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