No use of mobile phones while covering VIPs, Murang'a administrator insists

Officers attached to Gachagua's wife assault journalist

A Murang'a County administrator now wants the Media and its affiliated professional bodies to cease activism and accept that mobile phone journalism will not be allowed functions attended by VIPs.

This comes after the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) issued a notice advising the public and security officers that journalists should be allowed to gather news using mobile phones.

Ithanga/Kakuzi Sub County Deputy County Commissioner Ms Angela Makau insisted that the briefing to security officers guarding VIPs is not to allow phone recordings.

It is in this sub County where one of the conflicts pitting security guards attached to second lady Dorcas Gachagua and journalists happened on November 24, 2022, compelling the MCK to issue the public notice.

The issue has seen the Editors' Guild, several human rights organisations led by the Independent Medical Legal Unit (IMLU) and the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) rise up against non-recognition of smartphone journalism.

"I wonder whether what you people are exercising is journalism or activism. What there is and still stands is that phones are not allowed in these functions," she wrote to Nation.Africa.

She said unless the issue is clarified from the top, it will remain a point of conflict between security officers and journalists.

Ms Makau had on November 23 issued a presser accusing residents of being activists for siding with the media.

“These people are rushing to the media to report challenges in their lives instead of coming to the government. You wonder why they are choosing the media over us who are more strategically closer them and with mandate to offer them solutions,” he told the media in her office.

She further accused the residents of taking their activism too far "to a point of corrupting the justice system by bearing false witness statements to prosecution", saying the scenario has media influence.

A November 28 statement by the MCK said it has since been established that media practice in Kenya has changed due to the availability and appropriation of digital technologies.

“With advancement in technology, mobile phones are now being used to not only take photos and videos but also record voice clips and undertake broadcasting including live links by media,” MCK said in the statement.

The MCK observed that the conflict around the issue is not serving any common good cause.

“The Council has noted some disputes between a section of security officers and leaders on the use of these gadgets to record and transmit news from public events and wishes to clarify that mobile/smart phones, while in use by professional trained and accredited journalists and media practitioners should be allowed when needed,” it stated through its Chief Executive Officer David Omwoyo.

However, the council advised journalists to put into consideration the Media Council Act 2013 when using phones to cover functions.

“Clause 8 of the Code of Conduct provides for the use of technological tools and prohibits use of hidden cameras or phones unless there is no other way to access the news.”

Article 34: 2 (a) of the Constitution (2010) states that: The State shall not exercise control over or interfere with any person engaged in broadcasting, the production or circulation of any publication or the dissemination of information by any medium.


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