MEDIA FOR PUBLIC GOOD

Be objective and speak truth to power, Mwilu tells journalists

Acting CJ says scribes must strive to fend off any malevolent incentive that blot their integrity

In Summary

• Mwilu said journalists should have also been celebrated as frontline heroes and heroines alongside doctors and nurses at the height of the response to Covid19.

• Mwilu also lauded the convening of the award, saying it “promotes quality journalism and set the standard for representative voices in the media”.

Acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu as Chief Guest at the 9th Annual Journalism Excellence Awards (AJEA) 2021 heald at the Serena Hotel on May 4,2021./ CHARLENE MALWA
Acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu as Chief Guest at the 9th Annual Journalism Excellence Awards (AJEA) 2021 heald at the Serena Hotel on May 4,2021./ CHARLENE MALWA

Journalists must overcome every obstacle and remain bold to report the truth without being influenced, acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu has said.

She said reporters should not fall for any form of inducement or any “malevolent incentive” to blot their integrity and come between them in the pursuit of telling the truth.

Mwilu said this will help make sure that the information from news media serves the public good that it is intended to do.

Mwilu spoke on Tuesday during an award gala for journalists. The theme for this year is serving the public good. The gala was hosted by the Media Council of Kenya in Nairobi.

“Nothing I say, and I say nothing, should come between you and telling the truth, the absolute truth,” Mwilu said.

“Nothing should come between you and your duty to tell the truth. No inducement or any other such malevolent incentive should blemish your otherwise journalistic integrity. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about."

Mwilu also lauded the convening of the award, saying it “promotes quality journalism and set the standard for representative voices in the media”.

Eighteen journalists were shortlisted for the award from a pool of over 1,000 applicants. 

Mwilu lamented that journalists were not well appreciated alongside the medical personnel who were regarded as frontline workers in the Covid-19 war.

“A few of us stood and clapped for a brief moment for doctors and nurses whom we described as frontline heroes ad heroines. Don’t journalists belong in that category?

"Did they not bring us the information concerning the pandemic? How to stay safe, the effects on all sectors? Is that not commendable? Shouldn’t journalists, therefore, amongst others have been singled out for appreciation in more ways than one?

“You kept us informed, you kept us entertained, and you kept us accountable. We need to reflect this recognition and appreciation by taking better care of our journalists and media practitioners,” she said.

The Deputy Chief Justice said that even as the country benefits from quality and robustly independent press, it should take note of the difficulties that reporters and media practitioners go through in pursuing the stories to tell.

“As we recognise the work of journalists today, we cannot ignore the difficulties they face, not just as they collect, process and disseminate news and information, but as you seek to make a decent and honest livelihood from the passion of your profession,” she said.

The pandemic made the work journalists riskier and even more important, she said, adding that by virtue of their work, some of them “have been exposed to Covid-19, have been infected and a number have, sadly, succumbed”.

She said the importance of media became more apparent all over the world as lockdowns to contain the pandemic became the norm.

“The already tough media terrains in which correspondents operate have only been made tougher by the pandemic. So then what did we do as the consumers of the sweat of the brow of journalists?”