NAIROBI, Kenya, May 4- The Media Council of Kenya(MCK) was on Tuesday set to announce winners of the 2021 Annual Journalism Excellence Awards (AJEA), as part of activities to mark the World Press Freedom Day 2021. 

The awards are a continuous annual celebration of journalistic excellence and achievement in Kenya.

The virtual awards will be presided over by acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu alongside the council’s Chairman Maina Muiruri and CEO David Omwoyo.

“The key objectives of the awards are to identify, celebrate and maintain excellence in journalism and the media industry in general, recognize journalists who have demonstrated high standards of reportage and ethics in their work, and to identify areas of capacity need for journalists and media practitioners to maintain standards of excellence in the profession,” the council said..

It also aims to challenge journalists to achieve the highest standards of ethics in the profession and practice of journalism and inspire journalists to play their role in upholding democracy, integrity and accountability in society among others.

The Press Freedom Day was celebrated Monday and it coincided with the 30th year-anniversary of the 1991 Windhoek Declaration for the Development of a Free, Independent and Pluralistic Press, which led the United Nations to proclaim World Press Freedom Day in 1993.

The theme of the event was Information for Public Good.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi called on Media owners in Kenya to ensure that journalists are well paid so as to protect their integrity by limiting their chances of getting compromised.

Speaking during the World Press Freedom Day celebrations at a Nairobi Hotel, Muturi said journalists ought to be paid well to protect them from being captives of government and news sources

“Today is my day to ask media owners to pay our children, reporters and correspondents very well. They deserve it. These people go extra mile to get us the stories. Pay them well first and then demand integrity,” Muturi said amid rising cases of integrity issues among journalists in what is mainly attributed to poor pay that has been made worse by the COVID-19 economic meltdown.

Muturi said by paying journalists well, they will be able to exercise their mandate with no influence from external forces who compromise their integrity and their work as professionals.

On Sunday, the sustainability question dominated a stakeholders meeting organized by the Kenya Editors Guild (KEG) a day to the World Press Freedom Day.

The COVID-19 pandemic was singled out as one of the biggest threats to the viability of newsrooms with the negative impact on the economy shrinking the source of income for media players.

Kenya Union of Journalists Secretary General Eric Odour said: “We need to think of a stimulus package that is supported by the government. We also need a media sustainability fund to help the media conduct training, mentorship and research. We need to lobby the govt to come up with this fund.”

He added that, “Media sustainability debate can only be viable if we fix working conditions of journalists to attract and retain talent and necessary skills as a priority,”

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