KENYA: Inform Citizens of their Role in Electoral Campaigns, Media urged

NAIROBI JULY 15, 2016 (CISA) – The media has a duty to constantly explain to citizens their electoral responsibility during campaigns, Dr James Oranga Lecturer, School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nairobi has said.

“Citizens ought to hold people, who have been seeking election to account,” said Dr Oranga during a conference on July 14 dubbed Election Agenda 2017 and Beyond: Election Issuefication aimed at creating a strong link between development agenda and elections, as well as ensuring a peaceful elections 2017.

According to Dr Oranga the media is crucial in any election because it is the mouthpiece of politicians reaching mass audiences to sell themselves and their party manifestos and it is also crucial to citizens because it is the window through which we witness electioneering within and without our immediate environment.

He decried that issues do not take centre stage as they should during elections campaigns because addressing issues is sometimes not as interesting as addressing propagandist ideologies from politicians.

“We have to separate issues from emotions and ask, what are the issues of societal concern that those you want to elect to leadership must address,” he said adding. “The media should also report on anyone violating the constitution, electoral regulations, and who is violating fundamental freedoms with regards to campaign.”

Dr Oranga further stated that it is the responsibility of the media to scrutinize the credentials of those seeking political office, to put politicians to task on campaign funding and to always report both sides of the story because “the letter and spirit of journalistic expectations, is that we have to be objective”.

While quoting Bill Kovach, Dr Oranga said that “Journalism is the profession of verification” and that it is also the responsibility of the media during campaign to verify all campaign literature and utterances made in public by politicians and confirm if it is fact or fiction.

The two day conference July 13 – 14 was organized by Jesuit Hakimani Center and took place Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR) Nairobi.

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