Atwoli Urges Journalists to Stand Firm Amid Digital Disruptions » Capital News

MOMBASA, Kenya Dec 2 – Francis Atwoli, the Secretary General of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) has emphasized the pivotal role of the media in a vibrant democracy and urged them to fearlessly uphold their responsibilities as the “fourth estate” despite digital disruption challenges.

Speaking at the 2023 annual convention of the Kenya Editors Guild (KEG) in Mombasa on Saturday, Atwoli said that journalists, as the watchdogs of society, have a critical responsibility to highlight issues of concern, including corruption and mismanagement.

“You are the fourth estate and you must always be fearless,” he said.

He, however, warned that for responsible journalism to thrive, objectivity and independence must remain at the core.

He emphasized the importance of journalistic ethics and integrity, reminding journalists that their credibility hinges on these principles. He implored them to resist external pressures and influences that may compromise their impartiality.

As a representative of Kenyan workers, Atwoli expressed deep concern for the challenges faced by many journalists in Kenya today.

He empathized with those who have endured months without pay and job losses due to retrenchments. Atwoli recognized the economic hardships faced by journalists and acknowledged that the media landscape in Kenya has been transformed by digital disruption, disrupting traditional business models.

He singled out The Standard Media Group, one of Kenya’s oldest media houses, which has faced severe financial difficulties, leaving its employees unpaid for nine months. Atwoli described this situation as “unfortunate” and called upon the shareholders of The Standard to prioritize the welfare of journalists and staff who have weathered this storm.

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula, who also addressed the convention, echoed Atwoli’s concerns about the challenges facing the media industry and pledged to engage with President William Ruto to seek interventions to support The Standard media group and prevent its collapse.

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“It should concern us all, and that’s why we are worried about what is happening at The Standard,” he stated. “I will reach out to the president to find interventions to save The Standard.”

Most media houses are grappling with sustainability issues, exacerbated by the changing dynamics of advertising revenue and the encroachment of Big Tech companies into the media space.

While emphasizing the imperative of safeguarding media freedom, Wetangula committed to playing his role in Parliament and called upon other leaders to do the same. He reiterated that the media should be allowed to operate freely and independently.

Zubeidah Kananu, the President of the Kenya Editors Guild, echoed Atwoli’s and Wetangula’s concerns about the media industry’s challenges. She highlighted the economic constraints faced by media houses and the disruptive impact of digital technology on their revenue streams. Kananu emphasized the need for a balanced approach that takes into account both profit motives and public interest. She urged the government to support a media landscape that benefits society as a whole.

Kananu underscored the importance of evaluating existing laws and policies, particularly in light of technological advancements and their implications for the media industry. She emphasized the critical issue of media sustainability, with many media houses facing financial difficulties due to reduced advertising revenue, primarily caused by digital disruption and competition from Big Tech companies.

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