Gilbert Keith Chesterton, who was an English philosopher, writer and art critic, once said that: “It’s not the world that’s got so much worse, but the news coverage that’s got so much better”.
His words were proven right when media was evolving in the early 1920s.
During that time, journalism was restricted to print media. It was not until after the second world war that other forms of media such as television and radio were introduced. Journalists’ primary task was to inform the public. They acted as the society’s watchdog.
Media is vital to society. Both exist in a symbiotic relationship and none can thrive without the other. Today, the world stays connected through a plethora of news and entertainment media.
Media exists to highlight current affairs, whether positive or negative. Media has always been at the forefront to unveil vices such as corruption.
Despite the good work journalists have been doing, their freedom is often tenuous.
Media freedom undermined
Kenya has been one of the countries in Africa where the freedom of the press has been undermined. Instead of viewing the media as the eyes that make people comprehend the society better, those in power have at times used that opportunity to silence journalists.
Dr Millicent Otieno, the dean of students at the school of information, communication and media studies at Rongo University crowned it all by stating that: “The media has a responsibility to spur holistic development in the society. Dissemination of information that inspires economic, social, environmental development should not be sacrificed at the altar of sensational news. Free the media from economic sabotage and influence so as to enable it perform it’s noble role.”
A free press benefits all of us because it informs citizens, contributing to a people’s pool of knowledge. It also provides citizens with a means of calling attention to violation of their rights.
Maxwell Kamau and Antony Achayo are media and communication students at Rongo University.
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