The surge in the number of journalists reporting threats to life and safety is antithetical to the spirit of virtually every progressive constitution.
As humanity matches into a world of openness, attack on media practitioners is akin to cutting the lifeblood on free flow of ideas, thoughts and information which constitute the existential pillars of enlightenment.
Media outlets worth their salt undertake to embrace ethics in execution of their role. In other words, they are aware the right and freedom to inform and expression are not carte blanche, but are qualified and hinged on professionalism, responsibility and ethics.
These are the tenets which in our view guided Migori-based journalist Barrack Oduor, who was abducted and escaped death by the skin of his teeth given the horrific and tragic eventualities that now surround an event shaping up to be one of the most painful episodes in relationships that involved a young university woman.
By their very nature and function, the media will from time to time publish inconvenient and even intrusive information—all this as part of calling to hold especially leaders to account and act as society watchdog.
If media practitioners are subjected to hostility, suspicions, reprisals and punishment over unpopular information, it is the people who ultimately lose out. And it is why journalists ask questions, pry and not always on popular or rosy matters.
It’s a responsibility that is heavy but need not and should not be dangerous if executed professionally. As apparently was the case of Oduor, he got into the thick of things as he sought to balance a story that involved some individuals who would rather things were swept under the carpet.
That he had to jump out of a moving vehicle to save his life easily surmised the level of threat he faced. It is a grim reminder that the task of holding some leaders and politicians accountable remains risky. Targeting journalists just because some people who wear impunity like a badge of honour and would rather certain information did not become public is cowardly and unacceptable.
Media freedom is human freedom. Anybody having gripe with media corps must be reminded of channels like courts and institutional avenues like the complaints commission of the Media Council of Kenya, an arbiter recognised and created by law. Journalists are not anyone’s whipping boy. Period.