Journalists urged to observe ethical reporting
Journalists have been warned on reporting on matters that can prejudice the mind of the courts, however how sensational the story might be.
Speaking at a conference organized by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) with the journalists in a Kisumu hotel, Charles Ouma from the Kenya school of law said most of the journalists who cover court proceedings never seek permission from the concerned office hence disrupting court proceedings.
“No court allows use of flashes from the cameras journalists carry, you will be interfering with the proceedings when you seek permission you will always be reminded to put your gargets on mute, or use flashes before the proceedings start to avoid annihilation,” he said.
He called on journalists to consider ethics in reporting, saying every content should be classified before it goes on air, “before any story you have done goes on air think about the taste and the morality. The accuracy, fairness, integrity, accountability, confidentiality, misrepresentation, unnamed sources and always give opportunity to reply you can use the social media twitter and facebook to find reply before publishing,” he added.
Mr. Ouma added that nowadays most of the content by the journalists that goes on air seems never examined by the editors saying most of it doesn’t meet the obscenity taste and tone rule, “journalists should be careful while covering ethnic, religious and sectarian conflict.” He said.
He said the penalty for such contents if left to go on air the media responsible will be fined Ksh. 500, 000 as a warning or a maximum of one million shillings and have the license revoked.
He said journalists should always use Raynold checklist to weigh the contents they put on air or publish.
“You should always think of the seriousness of the allegations if it is, the nature of the information, the source of the information, the steps taken to verify the information, the urgency of the matter, whether comment was sought from plaintiff and the tone of the article,” he stated.
He informed the journalists to report the truth adding that those on editorial should always be cautious and knowledgeable saying the comments must be based on true facts or else it ceases to be a fair comment.
“When reporting on courts you should always respect the rights of the accused and always remember the implications, when the judge says the case has no sufficient substantiation that doesn’t mean that there is no case,” he said.
Dorcas Obura the deputy DPP acknowledged the delay of cases in courts citing the causes like investigations where she said investigations must be enhanced, “Investigations normally cause a delay in cases because, because our office (ODPP) depend on those investigations which sometime they are never capacitated,” she said.
She added that sometimes the budget allocated is never enough hence facilitation being a problem even to meet witnesses. “Another biggest problem nowadays is the cyber crime; cyber space has emerging new crimes, it has scenes of crime, it is not a must it be physical, hence more cases to deal with,” she added.
She also added that the police do investigations on reported crime and forward a duplicate of the police file to the ODPP.
The DPP then peruses the police file and gives advice and further directions concerning a matter.
Her sentiments were echoed by Nicholas Mutuku from the ODPP saying most of the cases delay because there are many actors that are involved. He said sometimes there is lack of transport yet the prison should avail the suspects in courts.
“We have many things that cause delay sometimes magistrates attending seminars, are not feeling well, and also you might find lawyers who are supposed to represent the accused involved in different cases somewhere else that is happening the same day,” he said.