Today journalists the world over celebrate ‘World’s Press Freedom Day‘. The theme this year is Information for Good.
This year’s even comes against a backdrop of emerging professional challenges emanating from the coronavirus pandemic. Hundreds of journalists in Kenya have lost their jobs owing to the pandemic. Some have even contracted the disease in the line of duty.
The profession continues to face numerous challenges, which pose a threat to Press freedom. These threats are as a result of external forces (such as the State and business interests) and internal censorship.
According to the World Data Atlas, the press freedom score in Kenya in 2020 is 33.72. In 2019, it was 32.44. In 2018, the country scored 30.82, while in 2017, it was 32.20. The score has gradually improved from 19.00 in 2010, 29.50 in 2012, 27.80 in 2013, 30.70 in 2014, 32.07 in 2015 and 31.16 in 2016.
But challenges in the field still persist.
In March last year, journalist Peter Maina was assaulted while reporting on how police officers were using extreme violence to enforce Covid-19 protocols.
Suba Churchill, Civil Society Reference Group coordinator, is quoted as saying that the prevailing press freedom is “a false semblance of press independence and freedom used as a decoy to undermine that very right”.
The Media Council of Kenya is marking this day with virtual discussions around the theme Information for Good.