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Reflecting on media role amid challenges

The annual media summit sponsored by the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) takes place amid momentous times.

To start with, sharp focus is being trained on the war against graft, with its casualties and consequences. The media are at the forefront, and their impact has been significant.

Secondly, watchdog agencies have their radar on the contraband sugar saga, with fingers pointing at  the big names for having slept on the job, allowing importation of contaminated commodity.

Clearly, these and other events are not only fodder for the media, but also place huge responsibility on scribes to ensure they stay on top of the game.

The summit is an apt occasion to reflect on the successes and challenges faced by the media in its role as society watchdog. And the challenges are legion. One major hurdle for members of the Fourth Estate has been to keep abreast, aware that the era of fake news has unleashed enormous and onerous tasks of sifting fact from fiction.

In addition, the advent of citizen journalism now dictates that certain dogmas and strictures must be looked at afresh, so as to remain relevant.

The media summit would also do well to reflect on the challenges of the love-hate relationship between journalists and politicians, alive to the fact that the latter are especially responsible for the shenanigans society despises.

But it is the frequent tendency by State agencies to hold the media to ransom that must form material for sober reflection at the summit.

Of course, those who have excelled will be feted and celebrated, but this should not deflect attention and the eye must focus on the ball.

Above all, media players must remember they mirror society, which means that the hand holding the mirror must not distort issues, intimidation notwithstanding. The mirror must remain true, and give true reflection of the affairs of the society it serves, for only then can society start to see its flaws, warts, pimples, imperfections and seek to correct them.

To paraphrase a Nigerian author, media practitioners would do well to chase away the hawk before chastising its chicks against wandering too far from home.