Media Owners Association condemns Raila attack on media

Nation Media Group (NMG) Group Chief Executive Officer Stephen Gitagama

Media Owners Association Chairman Stephen Gitagama and Nation Media Group Chief Executive Officer Stephen Gitagama. The association has condemned the boycott call on selected media by Azimio leader Raila Odinga.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Media Owners Association Chairman Stephen Gitagama has condemned the boycott call on selected media by Azimio leader Raila Odinga.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mr Gitagama who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Nation Media Group urged the Azimio leadership to file complaints with the Media Council of Kenya's Complaints Commission.

"The Media Owners Association believes this is an attack on press freedom since not a single complaint has been lodged with the company or Media Owners Association," Mr Gitagama said.

"The law provides a very clear channel of addressing grievances against the media, none of which has been followed. The Media Owners Association, therefore, ask Kenyans, including Azimio, aggrieved by media reports to file complaints with the Media Council of Kenya's Complaints Commission."

The MOA chairman said the Media in Kenya like elsewhere in the world occupies an important place in society as a vanguard for democracy.

"Since the struggle for pluralism, the Kenyan media has been at the forefront of spearheading change, providing an important platform for public engagement and ensuring that those in office uphold their oaths of office and implement the wishes of the electorate," he added.

Earlier, the Kenya Editors’ Guild (KEG) and the Media Council of Kenya also condemned Mr Odinga’s attack on the media.

Democratic principles

KEG President Churchill Otieno said the statement by Mr Odinga undermines democratic principles and threatens an already overly vulnerable media ecosystem.

”No further detail or evidence is provided of the newspaper's supposed offence. KEG sees the statement by Mr Odinga as an attack on the news media and a direct affront to media freedom, an act that would have the effect of exposing journalists to harm and in the process subvert democracy," Mr Otieno stated.

"We wish to remind Mr Odinga that as an influential leader with a huge following in our country, his utterances are taken seriously and where they potentially affect the safety and security of journalists then they become most unhelpful,” he added. 

“Our laws have defined clear channels available to those aggrieved of media excesses where they exist, and we call upon all leaders to use them. The Media Complaints Commission has competently handled previous cases against the media, including from the highest office in the land.” 

The MCK said it takes such statements against a media house as part of efforts to manipulate public opinion and limit freedom of the press, which are both fundamental components of a healthy democracy.

“ Such attacks undermine the freedom of the press and are attempts to undermine the role of the press in freely informing the electorates based on editorial judgments. Freedom of the press is an essential right that allows journalists to report on events, issues, and people without fear of censorship or repression," said MCK CEO David Omwoyo.