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Due to fear, media "low-key, even timid" in their reporting on political crisis, says fact-finding mission report

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) -The following is a 4 March 2008 ARTICLE 19 press release:

Kenya: Fact-Finding Mission Reports Fear Factor In Kenyan Media Coverage of Political Crisis

ARTICLE 19 has released the report and recommendations of a fact-finding mission on Kenya's media coverage of its post-election crisis. The report comes on the heels of the announcement of power-sharing between Kenya's political parties. It indicates Kenya's media have been low-key, even timid in their reporting of the country's political crisis.

"The media apparently self-censored calling instead for harmony," says ARTICLE 19's John Gachie, who participated in the Mission that included International Media Support (IMS) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The report says Kenya's media coverage of the poll dispute that nearly plunged the country into a civil war and displaced an estimated 500,000 people, was muted.

The Kenyan government had banned all live coverage of the crisis early on, "but the Media apparently showed restraint to a fault" in the information they did provide, says the Executive Director of ARTICLE 19, Dr. Agnes Callamard, commenting on the Fact-Finding mission's report. "Kenya's media apparently abandoned their watchdog function for preachy editorials and analysis," says Callamard. ARTICLE 19 and its partners of course denounced the ban on live broadcasts because it deprived the public of critical information about important changes as they happened. Now it's even more obvious the Kenya government need not have imposed any media ban.

"We would like to have seen the media's professionalism in reporting the conflict truthfully and without any incitement to violence. But from the investigation of the Fact-Finding mission, "the Kenyan media were really timid with truth telling." Even Kenya's vernacular broadcasters and editorials appeared to have been circumspect in discussing the conflict," added Callamard.

The report of the ARTICLE19, IMS and RSF Media Fact-Finding Mission is available at: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/publications/kenya-how-far-to-go.pdf

The recommendations of the report are available at: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/publications/kenya-rec-s-media.pdf

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