UNESCO, Union Team up to Train Kenyan Journalists

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The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) in collaboration with The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and European Union is targeting at least 200 journalists for a training program to boost their skills while covering disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The virtual training that started on December 3, is expected to help journalists understand the professional code of conduct to enhance their capacity to report Covid-19 to instill adherence to professional ethics. The training will be done in two phases to benefit journalists, especially those based in counties.

The training comes as an intervention to boost the capacity of journalists who are currently facing professional challenges while reporting Covid-19 that has seen massive job losses in newsrooms.

“Journalists are playing a very critical role during these difficult times, which requires them to continuously upgrade their skills and ensure adherence to professional code of conduct,” said Erick Oduor, Secretary-General of Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ). 

The 200 journalists will be drawn from 50 media institutions comprising TV, radio (private, public, and community), newspapers, and online digital media) across the 47 counties in Kenya with a focus on community media and accredited by the Media Council of Kenya (MCK).

“Covid-19 has aggravated injuries inflicted by technology in newsrooms and there is a need to improve skills and capacity of journalists to generate content that is not offensive to professional code of conduct,” added Mr Oduor.

Given the sensitive nature of the Covid-19 pandemic and the trauma surrounding it, it’s required that the media remains professional and guard against misreporting as this will make containment measures hard to implement. 

According to the Code of Conduct of Practice of Journalism in Kenya, accuracy, and fairness is a requirement for all journalists when handling matters of public interest such as Covid-19 that continue to affect citizens, health and the economy.

Acknowledging the important role played by community media in rallying the country to adhere to Covid-19 containment measures, the training will pay attention to journalists working within the communities to work without bias or stereotype and diversity of expressions, opinion, and ideas in context, especially in the campaign to contain the spread of the coronavirus.    

The journalists will also be taken through accountability as required by the code of conduct to ensure they respond to public concerns and correct errors promptly about Covid-19 and also observe intrusion to grief and shock, especially when handling victims and survivors of Covid-19. 

About the #CoronavirusFacts project:

Based on the central tenet that information is the opposite of disinformation, the UNESCO project #CoronavirusFacts leverages the pivotal role of freedom of expression and access to information to address information needs in times of COVID-19 and to tackle the massive wave of disinformation which threatens to impact democracy, sustainable development, and stability around the world.

Funded by the European Union, the project supports professional, diverse and independent media’s capacity to report on the pandemic; strengthens local fact-checking organizations to debunk misinformation, and empowers youth and other citizens to critically process what they read and hear linked to COVID-19 through training in media and information literacy.

Source: Kenya Union of Journalists