Nairobi — The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has launched updated election coverage guidelines.
The guidelines launched on Thursday were reviewed by a technical committee that brought together representatives from media houses, independent practitioners and media professional bodies.
They will be adopted on Monday in Kisumu at a conference bringing together various stakeholders, including the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
"It could not have come at a better time than this when we are expecting a very competitive elections.The signs are already there and we need these guidelines now," said MCK Board Chairman Maina Muiruri.
He said the reviewed guidelines will serve as self regulating tool for the media during next year's General Election.
Speaking in Nairobi during the event, Muiruri said the guidelines are one of the key strategies that the council will implement to ensure that the media plays its role in the interest of a free, fair and peaceful elections.
David Omwoyo, the MCK CEO who also spoke at the event, said that the renewal of the guidelines is informed by the efforts to capture the emerging realities in the country and enhance professionalism in journalism.
He added that the guidelines will be subjected to stakeholder validation and signing next week before being published and launched in the public to ensure the journalists and media houses understand them.
"The guidelines are meant to ensure the media provides unbiased, fair and balanced coverage of elections ensuring that the campaign debate, the election itself and the issues around it are covered professionally and in depth," he said.
He called on the Journalists to be on the forefront in focussing on important issues affecting Kenyans such as insecurity and other challenges.
On his part, Muiruri the MCK Chairman said the commission will carry out a number of strategies including collaboration with the media to ensure that it plays its civic role to educate Kenyans on the importance of participating and electing responsible leaders and its watchdog role to ensure transparency in electoral processes.
He stated that they will also work with the stakeholders in the media sector to conduct county-based journalists' training on election reporting.
"This is very key, one of the biggest complains coming from everywhere is don't you train them (journalists). This trainings on elections will take root across the country," he said.
He added that MCK will also review the safety and protection mechanisms for journalists which will be signed by the media owners and the editors as a commitment to ensure safety of journalists.
The MCK chairman said the commission will also work with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to accredit journalists for election reporting and coverage.
Muiruri said that MCK will also set up media centers for journalists to work from during the election period.
"This will go a long way in helping journalists," he said.
And to support journalists, the council has assured that it will provide grants to help them cover elections in depth.
In a bid to combat the spread of fake news and misinformation, the media watchdog will monitor what the media disseminates during the electioneering period.