The year 2018 had both good and ugly experiences for the media in Kenya. Challenges include misapplication of the legal regime against the media, influence on editorial content by corporates or owners and advertisers, physical threats to media practitioners, credibility and professional concerns including corruption and misinformation, and poor working conditions that have been noted to have chilling effects on media practice. On the other hand, journalists have remained patriotic to the core calling and brought us stories of hope, Kenyans coping with the difficult conditions they are going through, unearthing massive scandals in both public and private spheres, exposing human rights violations in the country and contributing to holding duty bearers accountable.
As we start 2019, it is important that journalists relook and listen to the issues consumers are raising. Journalists must move with the times and accommodate emerging issues in the profession and from the audience.
We cannot do the same things routinely and expect different results. The prevailing hard economic times and dwindling revenues from advertisements, call for a new way of doing things. Content must become king and it can only do so if it resonates with the audience. More than ever before, media must invest in research, quality journalism and content. Journalists must also familiarise themselves with Article 10 of the Constitution, that requires upholding of the national values and principles of governance that include national unity, democracy and public participation. Media must promote diversity and plurality through their content.
The 2022 succession politics, referendum, the Big Four agenda, corruption and related will cloud the media, but the debates must go beyond the usual faces and culprits. More Kenyans should be allowed to participate in national conservations, and constructive voices given a voice in the narratives.
A journalists work involves being a diligent purveyor of facts and information emanating from all segments of the society. In each respect, the media is expected to be purveying information that is truthful and helpful to public accountability and transparency.
This is for checks and balances reasons. Media must guide the debates within the professional lenses including taking responsibility and being accurate to avert misinformation.
The issue of corruption in media must be addressed and tackled immediately. Journalists must seek information using the access to information law, do joint ventures and focus more on constructive journalism through problem solving stories, localize content to speak to our audiences and invest more in research and investigative journalists.
This year we must seek to practice constructive journalism; journalism that seeks to describe events and developments in a holistic manner and to give hope for developments that can address concerns and problems facing people.
Kenyans should also appreciate the environment in which media is operating and offer support through sharing information, documents and constructive criticisms.