Journalists’ union, Media Council condemn Raila’s media boycott remarks

By , K24 Digital
On Tue, 21 Mar, 2023 19:01 | 2 mins read
MCK wants judiciary to act swiftly following TUKO editor's sentencing
MCK CEO David Omwoyo. PHOTO/Courtesy

The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) and Media Council of Kenya (MCK) have condemned Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga's call to supporters to boycott The Star newspaper.

In a statement to newsrooms, KUJ Secretary General Eric Oduor said 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.

He further stated that the decision will endanger the lives of The Star newspaper journalists who will be targeted by 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.

Oduor added: "Mr Odinga as a leader must desist from making statements that will set up men and women who are working under very difficult environment to check the government and all leaders holding various positions in the country for the common good of the Kenyan society."

MCK responds to Raila

On his part, MCK CEO David Omwoyo said Raila's remarks are 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," Omwoyo stated.

He added: "Such utterances by a leading political figure put journalists who work at The Star newspaper at risk as they may be attacked by supporters of the political coalition.

"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."

While issuing post Azimio protests remarks on Tuesday, March 21, Raila called for a boycott of Safaricom, Kenya Commercial Bank, and Radio Africa media, particularly the Star Newspaper "who have become enablers and facilitators of this brutal regime".

"These corporates have become the enemies of the people and are benefiting from the blood and tears of Kenyans," Raila said.

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