Kenya Journalists In a- balancing-act on Devolution Reporting.

By Charles Ogallo.

Media has played a crucial role in the constitution implementation process in Kenya as the country continue to expect it to keep them informed on developments of legislative and administrative procedures required to implement the constitution.

However reporting on devolution has remained a- balancing- act among many Kenya journalists as they try to play their watchdog role in the implementation of the constitution.
Journalists at work 

The Kenyan constitution has set tight deadlines for the implementation of this new devolved system of governance, with 47 county governments and one national government working independently within a unitary state.

Though the on-going political intrigues and holla bulla playing around devolution across the country may have given the media a good time for coverage, delay in implementation of the new system of governance was putting journalists in an awkward situation in terms of communication and resource availability in reporting on devolution.

This was revealed during a media workshop in the port city of Mombasa where journalists complained of many issues among them un healthy environment when reporting on devolution especially in the county assemblies where specific areas are yet to designated  to accommodate and enable them report effectively.

The un-friendly manner in which county governments and assemblies leaders and officials operate also triggered anger among local journalists with many complaining of intimidations and bureaucracy with in the entire structure of county governments.

Journalists most of them from Mombasa,  Kwale , Kilifi and Taita Taveta counties were of opinions that every county assembly should create a Press Gallery where journalists would be able to give good coverage during sessions.

However, the Kenya Correspondents Association-KCA which has been championing for the rights of Kenya journalists especially those operating independently as correspondents have introduced a training program for local journalists interested in reporting on devolution across the country.

The capacity building program being funded by USAID through KTI is aimed at equipping journalist with new skills and tools that could enable theme to report well on devolution especially in counties at the coast.

According to KCA  chairman Mr William Oloo Janak, journalists in many counties were finding it difficult to effectively cover devolved system of governments especially county assembly sessions and that there was need for them to be trained on parliamentary reporting and devolution in general.  

“Journalism is dynamic ,  devolution is a new animal in town and its upon you journalists to make it a habit of desiring to learn and learn more on new issues cropping up daily in the sector” Janak told journalists during a media workshop in Mombasa.

The same sentiment had earlier been echoed by Media Council of Kenya CEO Dr Haron Mwangi who challenged local journalists to focus more on many issues affecting Kenyans at the county levels and be able to report objectively. “Let’s focus on things that are of public interests and avoid those political side-shows that divide the country” He said.

The capacity building program comes as Kenyans awaits the National Treasury to release shillings 190 billion allocated to the 47 county governments in 2013/2014 budget.


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