Dennis Itumbi reports for Journalism.co.uk from Nairobi on the media scene in Kenya:
The Kenyan government is urging the local press to develop a set of standardised rules for using anonymous sources.
Government spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua told a weekly press briefing that the state was concerned about ‘a new pattern of untrue stories that are on the increase and which solely depend on anonymous sources’.
Journalists at the televised briefing put the spokesman on the spot over the government’s reluctance to pass a proposed Freedom of Information bill and replace the current Official Secrets Act – a retrogressive set of laws that criminalise access and publication of basic information by branding all government documents confidential.
“You cannot accuse the media of being lazy and irresponsible, while they labour to get information that is hidden under the excuse of the Official Secrets Act. Kindly update us on how far the Freedom of Information bill has gone, given that it has been pending in parliament for the last nine years,” one journalist said.
“We agree that the time has come to free information, but the fact that we have not brought in the new law is no excuse to use sources who have little description or authenticity. We must stop that pattern for the sake of truth,” answered Mutua.
Last year Kenyan journalists took to the streets with their mouths gagged to protest against new laws by the government that would have seen the media forced to disclose their sources.