The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has issued an advisory to journalists on reporting violent crime, death and tragedies.
In a statement, the council noted that it was concerned with the media coverage of the recent death and murder cases around the country.
“The Media Council of Kenya notes with concern that recent coverage of deaths occurring within apartments and other places is in breach of certain sections of the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism in Kenya,” the statement reads in part.
On its part, MCK noted that media reporting of these deaths, aptly branded ‘femicide’ must remain factually accurate and objective.
However, this contrasts with the expected coverage of being sensational and depicting gender biases as per media ethics.
“Such stories must bear no hint of stereotyping of any form and must not be seen to confirm certain social prejudices,” added MCK.
Additionally, the Council noted that it has observed that the media has joined a bandwagon making the crimes look like a battle of the genders.
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MCK added that media houses should clearly and objectively report on the issues surrounding such incidences and drawing verifiable patterns, if any, to help those responsible design appropriate interventions.
Media Council on Code of Conduct
Furthermore, the council quoted the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism in Kenya which stipulates that journalists shall be Accurate and Fair.
The code aims at ensuring that all subjects of news coverage are treated with respect and dignity, showing compassion to victims of crime or tragedy.
MCK added, “Sections 13 of the Code relating to Privacy requires that the public’s right to know shall be weighed against the privacy rights of the news subjects.”
However, the media council noted that the privacy of families bereaved or affected has been infringed upon by overzealous journalists.
In the most extreme, the council added that victim shaming appears to be normalized by the media.
Some flagged incidents that were witnessed by the council include instances where journalists invade homes of grieving families uninvited and appear to parade relatives in deep distress.
Addressing publications of graphic content, MCK highlighted the section on Obscenity, Taste and Tone in Reporting.
MCK noted that the code of conduct explicitly prohibits publication of photographs showing mutilated bodies, bloody incidents, and abhorrent scenes unless the publication or broadcast of such photographs strictly serve public interest.
“If it is absolutely necessary to report certain gruesome details of deaths and/or injury, the Code requires that alerts be issued to warn viewers or readers that the information being published contains horrific images or description,” the statement added.
Furthermore, the council has warned that the media should be careful against implying patterns or divisions unless credible authorities have reported so.
Professional Media reporting of such and other incidents should be clearly distinguishable from other social media users regardless of the platform being utilized.
The Media Council of Kenya calls upon the media to reflect and evaluate its reporting of such incidences so far, review and constantly refer to the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism in Kenya.