Accreditation of journalists helps improve professionalism

Rules need to be tightened to ensure that only accredited media personnel are allowed to practice and within the limits of the law. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Kenya’s media industry has grown in leaps and bounds over the past 20 years largely due to the digital revolution. This has contributed to the expansion of democratic space, ensuring that more voices play the role of watchdog, agenda setting and guard, and amplifying the ability of citizens to hold power to account. . The positive impact of the expansion has come with its share of challenges, however, the key being regulation and ensuring that all players in the industry adhere to established standards and professionalism.

One of the issues plaguing the collective consciousness of the industry is the charlatans operating in the media space and bringing the media profession into disrepute. This calls for the need to define and authorize those who operate as journalists and media professionals.

The place of accreditation in journalism cannot be denied. Accreditation has become increasingly important in an age when, thanks to smartphone ownership and access to social media, anyone can produce content. The question that arises as a result is who do citizens turn to for the plain truth? Accreditation is the cure.

The accreditation identifies a person as belonging to the profession of journalist and authorizes him to practice accordingly. In addition, it allows them to enjoy the rights and privileges that flow from being a member of the vocation. For all intents and purposes, most employers, and not just in the media, ask potential employees for their accreditation details whenever they are looking for staff in different categories.

This gives employers the reassurance that they are hiring the right people. In addition to ensuring that journalists adhere to the stipulated principles of their profession, accreditation opens doors for them by ensuring access to accurate and up-to-date information by allowing their participation in conferences, workshops, trainings and other gatherings.

In addition, accreditation strengthens the protection of journalists in the performance of their duties by accelerating the deployment of a rapid response in cases where an accredited journalist is attacked. Accredited people can also apply for grants and internships in different media programs.

As the media industry around the world struggles with declining public trust and disinformation, all players in the media space must operate in a professional manner, bound by rules and regulations. Correct identification of journalists and media professionals will help solve this problem.

This will strengthen the image of the media industry as a credible source of information in an ecosystem riddled with fake news. As the body mandated to set standards and ensure compliance, the Kenya Media Council, through its accreditation function, has worked with stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies. , to improve professionalism in the media and lock out people posing as journalists.

One of the measures currently being taken by the council to combat charlatans is to provide journalists with a verification number, 40314, which members of the public can use to confirm whether anyone presenting a Media Council accreditation card from Kenya is a true journalist. The cards have distinctive security features including a special number assigned to each journalist.

To expand the network and ensure that everyone working in the industry is accredited, the council this year launched the accreditation of media professionals, who are not professionally trained, but work in a theatrical environment. drafting.

This is done on the condition that they must first undergo training for media professionals on the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism in order to obtain accreditation.

The council plans to train more media professionals in 2022 to ensure that everyone operating in the media space is aware of the Code of Conduct and still maintains their professionalism. The council also introduced a new category of public communication experts in the public and private spheres to ensure that all stakeholders with journalism and media studies training are accredited.

The launch of the online accreditation of journalists to respond to the realities of the Covid-19 pandemic in December of last year was a huge success. The council is working to improve the portal to provide journalists with a better user experience during the 2022 accreditation cycle and beyond.

As we head into a general election year, the council will be holding a series of trainings for journalists on election coverage. Accredited journalists will be given priority during the training. It is our social responsibility to ensure that the country remains united, even after the general election, in exercising our watchdog role.

Rules need to be tightened to ensure that only accredited media personnel are allowed to practice and within the limits of the law. This will go a long way in preventing unscrupulous individuals from using the media space to misinform and sometimes blackmail Kenyans.

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