Regulate citizen journalism to protect audiences

Kenyans are finding it difficult to trust information

In Summary

• Citizen journalists criticised for spreading unverified unattributed information 

•  Urged to adhere to Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism in Kenya or develop another strict code 

Facebook Sub-saharan Africa strategic media partnership manager Jocelyne Muhutu at media briefing in Nairobi on October 25, 2018
FIGHT FAKE NEWS: Facebook Sub-saharan Africa strategic media partnership manager Jocelyne Muhutu at media briefing in Nairobi on October 25, 2018

Kenyans have been fed diverse content from different sources so that it is they who choose the source that will satisfactorily quench their information thirst. However, Kenyans are finding it difficult to trust the information they get because of too many citizen journalism amateur producers, who are not working for the best interest of the public and do not observe the code of ethics in their journalistic practice. 

Citizen journalists are spamming the web and social media with false information as often as they wish. Their stories are filled with sensationalism with screaming headlines and altered photographs to lure the attention of their audience. Some of them also give information as breaking news using mainstream media trademarks. This has made some of the mainstream media houses get blamed without a purpose by the public claiming that they are giving false and unverified information.

These citizen journalists mostly give incredible and unverified information that is not attributed to any source, and sometimes attribute information to the wrong sources. The names of places and people are not given in most of their reports. This is slowly making Kenyans lose trust in Kenyan media, whether mainstream or social. It is now hard to believe that something has truly happened not unless the people see it for themselves or view its live coverage the traditional media.

It is not shocking to realise that most Kenyans have opted to import content from international media outlets because they don’t have trust in their local outlets. It is not that our Kenyan media is not capable of informing its audience. These so-called journalists or bloggers have flooded the internet with fake news you are not sure what to believe and what to ignore.

It is, therefore a time that the citizen journalists adhere to the code of conduct for the journalistic practice in Kenya or they develop theirs that is to be strictly followed. 

If citizen journalism is not controlled, then the Kenyan media industry will hardly manoeuvre and will begin to go down until it’s no more.