The ICC and Media Responsibility

Posted by on 28th January 2011

Categories:   2012 Elections Kenyaelection07

By Mzalendo Contributor Moreen Majiwa (@mmajiwa)
On Wednesday I went to a public forum on media responsibility in reporting on the ICC processes. The panel was made up of Gichugu MP Martha Karua, Former TJRC Vice Chairperson and transitional justice expert Kaari Murungi, Nation Editor Macharia Gaitho and the Head of Article 19 Henry Maina.
Chepalungu MP, Isaac Ruto was also scheduled to be there but he didn’t turn up.

The topic was particularly interesting because of the critical role the media plays in gathering and distributing information in an environment where transparencyon government business is limited.

Outside official government statements the media remains one of the few avenues through which we can know exactly what our government is doing and through which our right to information is exercised. So what do we as Kenyans and consumers of media expect from it?

Most of those present at the forum expected the media to provide factually accurate, fair, balanced and impartial coverage of events, and as one of the panelists remarked Kenya being a pos- conflict country the media had an additional duty to be constructive in its reporting and an agent of reducing conflict
rather than exacerbating it.

While the panelists lauded the media’s coverage of the ICC process as well as the evolution and maturity of the press since its coverage of the 2007/2008 post-election violence, they also criticized the media of becoming progressively embroiled in the politics and losing cite of the main issues.

Some of the criticism levelled against the media included:

  • The lack of media of memory has meant that politicians have and continue to be allowed to behave badly – going back on promises, and flip-flopping on issues with no one to hold them to account for earlier utterances, particularly with regards to their initial support of and subsequent withdrawal of support for the ICC process.
  • Because the media had become so caught in the politics, they have become a platform for the theatrics of politicians thereby emboldening impunity rather than being a voice of truth.

However it must be acknowledged that similar to most Kenyans, the ICC process is also new to the media and there still needs to a built a competency within the press on reporting on the ICC. What do you think of presses coverage of the ICC process so far?

Is the media losing its agenda-setting platform in its coverage of the ICC?