- Philip Ochieng recognized the outstanding actions, in writing, of an individual, in the cause of press freedom.
- He defined our profession and, in his ways, shaped the world in which we live.
Today, we sit here to celebrate the life of a man who stood for excellence in journalism, in and out of season.
On May 10, 2021, led by President Emeritus Churchill Otieno, the Kenya Editors’ Guild declared that it would hold the Philip Ochieng’ Lecture Series on Journalism every year on the second Friday of May, beginning 2022.
As we reconnect and rebuild the relationships and personal ties that bind us so concretely, allow me to take this opportunity to thank all Kenyans, and journalists, on behalf of KEG, and my behalf, for the commitment to the cause of press freedom and what this commemoration continues to inspire and motivate us.
This year’s theme is “Independence of the Media; Reality or Illusion??”
Indeed, freedom of expression and press freedom are enshrined both in national and international laws.
But reality speaks of another truth.
Media themselves struggle to survive. Disruption in media has caused massive layoffs of experienced journalists.
Yet, the newsrooms remain underserved and with the young demographic of journalists, comes challenges, among them knowledge gap and institutional memory.
I’d like to say a few words regarding the role of this commemoration and the resonance it holds.
Philip Ochieng recognized the outstanding actions, in writing, of an individual, in the cause of press freedom.
Philip Ochieng defined our profession and, in his ways, shaped the world in which we live.
There is no freedom without solidarity. Aside from our daily struggles, we must work together, as Philip did for journalism with leadership courage and focus, to deliver independent journalism and reliable coverage.
We must fight disinformation, and polarization, and support local media to produce the best for journalism.
Today’s event is an immense effort, one that the entire journalism family can be proud of – that we can all be proud of.
It shows, indisputably, that by working together, we have the best chance to effect positive change.
Indeed, the 2023 Philip Ochieng Memorial Lecture reminds us that if we join forces, we can help close the gap between standards and reality.
We at KEG are sending a clear message that we are keen to foster collaborations to build the capacity for the next generation of editors, such as the university students in the auditorium.
You can count on KEG to promote professionalism and always remember that truth and accuracy in our reportage remain key.
We must continue asking ourselves: how can media operate to ensure it executes its cardinal role to the people, its duty to the citizens? We must not give up, and looking at you today, I know that we will be many in proving ourselves right.
We look forward to welcoming members of the academia present to join the guild.
There’s so much that we can do together, including reviewing the curriculum for journalism students to align with the changing media landscape.
Let’s take advantage of the rich cadre of editors to impact the next generation of editors.
The writer is the president of the Kenya Editors' Guild