Media stakeholders in the country have come out to condemn Azimio leader Raila Odinga’s call to supporters to boycott The Star newspaper.
The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) and Media Council of Kenya (MCK) have both termed Raila’s call as unfortunate.
KUJ Secretary General Eric Oduor says the decision is undermining the freedom and the independence of the media in Kenya.
“This is very unfortunate, with the remarks coming from a leader who understands the importance of a free and independent press in promoting good governance and transparency in public process, which he is fighting for,” Oduor said.
Oduor further argues that the decision will endanger the lives of The Star newspaper journalists who will be targeted by overzealous Azimio supporters.
“The boycott call and derogatory remarks, do not only puncture the independence of the media but put at risk the lives of journalists working with the Star newspapers who will soon become victims of assault by overzealous Azimio supporters all over the country.
“We call upon Mr. Odinga and Azimio La Umoja fraternity to respect the freedom of the media and use appropriate channels to file complaints if the actions of journalists violate Code of Conduct for Practice of Journalism in Kenya,” he said.
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MCK CEO David Omwoyo termed Raila’s remarks 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 the 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.
“When political leaders ask people to boycott a national newspaper, they are essentially trying to undermine this freedom and to control the narrative in their favor”.
“Further, and given the current economic hardships being faced by the media, boycotting a national newspaper could have serious economic consequences for the newspaper and its employees, potentially leading to job losses and financial instability.”Omwoyo stated
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