Journalists take copies of the Kenyan security manual. (Zoe Mwende)
Journalists take copies of the Kenyan security manual. (Zoe Mwende)

Kenyan journalists, CPJ launch new initiative to improve security

Today, the Committee to Protect Journalists in collaboration with local media organizations launched a journalist security guide and protocol designed specifically for the Kenyan press. The initiative stems from research conducted in 2013 by the same group of organizations, the Kenya Media Working Group, in light of acute and unique security challenges for the Kenyan press coming to light that year.

A 2013 nationwide media survey indicated that over half of Kenyan reporters experience at least one security threat during their career. Further, the survey indicated that 62 percent of those threatened never reported the incident since their media house did not support them in the past or, more worryingly, their own employer was the source of the threat.

To address this, Kenya Media Working Group has released a set of guidelines designed to ensure greater institutional support for Kenyan journalists’ security. “Journalists have been exposed for a very long time and this should have been done years ago,” said Wangethi Mwangi, veteran journalist and media consultant to the Africa Media Initiative, one of the partners in the group. “There is hardly any mechanism to give journalists the comfort they need when they are out in the field.”

Representatives from leading media houses attending the launch, including the Nation, the Standard and Mediamax, all pledged their support for the journalist security protocol. The new materials will hopefully ensure that Kenyan journalists receive support from their employers and take personal precautions to improve their security. This is especially key in western Kenya, where CPJ research indicates the highest level of threat.