How to cover elections in banditry-prone areas

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“No story is worth your life,” the Media Council of Kenya told journalists working in banditry-prone areas ahead of the August 9 General Election.

Some 30 journalists from Baringo and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties converged for one-day media training at Iten hotel, Elgeyo Marakwet, on June 21.

“In journalism, we always believe there is no story of whatever nature that is worth your life,” Media Council programmes manager Victor Bwire told the field reporters.

Bwire further said in case of life-threatening situations, journalists ought to be mindful first of their own lives by either avoiding crowds, choosing to hide or run where they have spotted looming riots.

“Remember, journalists are equipped only with job gadgets like cameras, pens and notebooks, meaning they are totally harmless. They don’t have weapons to protect themselves in case of attacks,” he said.

Bwire said when a journalist is killed or dies in the line of duty, the Media Council only writes a mere regret letter or condemns the cold bloodshed killing, “but we can’t do anything beyond there to restore a lost life” he said.

In case of a sudden weapon or gun-point attack inside an enclosed room or a vehicle, he said, occupants should go down flat, get yourself a position to hide and keep silent. He demonstrated how.

“In case you choose to hide, run or confront the attacker with a simple fight, remember you’re not doing it to win, instead you’re just looking for a way to escape and run for your dear. So be highly conscious and calculative in every move,” he said. 

He warned journalists against bending down to pick fallen items like pens, phones or a notebook in case of a fracas, lest they are mistaken for rioters picking stones or harmful weapons to harm security officers.

“That is when you will hear a journalist has mistakenly been shot, beaten up or arrested,” he said, reiterating the need for reporters to always identify themselves in every public function.

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