January 22nd 2018

Media / Watchdog

German embassy official visits Kenya Free Press

Saying the media played a critical role in determining societal development, the diplomat praised the Kenyan media for its professionalism but said that it could do more to fight corruption. He cited the case of Germany, where media forced a president to resign following corruption allegations.

By David Mutuadmutua@kenyafreepress.comThursday, 30 Mar 2017 18:23 EAT

Dr Puk, at the back, posed for a group photograph with the Kenya Free Press team. (Photos: Reuben Gitahi).

A diplomat from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Nairobi today paid a courtesy visit at the Kenya Free Press where he held a discussion with managers, staff members and interns about the newspaper's work and shared ideas about the role of the media in Kenya and Germany.

Dr Alexander Puk, the Head of Press Section and Political Counsellor at the Embassy, congratulated the Kenya Free Press team on the good work the website has been doing in covering political and other news in Kenya, saying emerging media enterprises were needed to complete the picture for readers by highlighting perspectives that mainstream platforms some times can miss.

Having followed the website's coverage for some time, he said, he had wanted to get to meet its writers and understand how a small media enterprise in Kenya operated. Saying the media played a critical role in determining societal development, the diplomat praised the Kenyan media for its professionalism but said that it could do more to fight against corruption in the country.

He cited the case of German President Christian Wulff who resigned from office after corruption allegations were made against him, saying the media helps set standards for society. "In the president's case, the media ceaselessly demanded accountability over the favours that he had received. There was nothing criminal (in fact, he was eventually cleared by the court), but the media felt that his integrity had been called into question and finally he had to resign from office," he said.

He told the KFP team that his role in the embassy involved working with the media. He has been in Kenya only since August 2016, this being his first posting in Africa, and the visit to KFP was his first visit to a media enterprise in Kenya. He, however, has interacted with many journalists particularly those from the mainstream media houses.

The KFP team led by its founder and chief executive, Mr John Onyando, appraised him on how the newspaper conducts its work, from the gathering of news and interviews to research and publication. Mr Onyando informed him that the website uses real time analytic tools to assess the relevance of its content through readership statistics.

He explained the rationale for founding the Kenya Free Press, saying that in recent years, while working in the United States, he observed that the mainstream media some times neglected important news events or perspectives, even where videos from such events were widely shared on social media platforms.

"I and some friends thought we could have a media enterprise that, however small, can be relied on by its readers to bring independent, authentic news in real time," he said. In addition to that, Mr Onyando said, "We also sought to establish an enterprise where young journalists can be nurtured in the traditional workings of media, including vibrant debating on content production and objectivity".

He said that while media training institutions have expanded over the last few years, the number of enterprises where students can learn practical skills had not kept pace, hence the need for Kenya Free Press. He informed Dr Puk that the newspaper collaborates with journalism training institutions to send interns for attachment every three months.

(L-R): Dr Puk, Mr Onyando and Senior Editor Philip Mulee during the discussion. 

Some of the interns present described their experience at the company. David Mutua, who studies at NIBS College, said the company had provided him an opportunity to grow his skills in the industry. Priscillah Wanjiru, also from NIBS, said she benefitted from the training offered by the programme, having been recommended by her lecturer.

The diplomat also spoke highly about his experience in Kenya, saying he enjoyed the weather, Nairobi's cosmopolitan life and the hospitality of the Kenyan people. But he decried traffic jams, which he said he was getting accustomed to. He is taking Kiswahili lessons.

He also took questions from the team about his home country, which he said has a tempered climate and, to the amazement of some interns, does not experience drought. He said Germany also has warm weather, and experiences floods sometimes.



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