Kenya - Court reporting guidelines for journalists launched
The President of the Court of Appeal Justice William Ouko said the media played a key role in court coverage saying continuous training will equip journalists with the requisite skills to cover the courts more effectively and enhance the quality and accuracy of reporting.
Speaking during the launch of court reporting guidelines by the Kenya Editors Guild, Justice Ouko said misreporting of court cases have attracted legal litigations against media houses and hefty penalties.
The media, he said plays a critical watchdog role including highlighting cases in the public interest and also shining a light on the action of judges, lawyers and prosecutors to ensure justice for victims.
He cited lack of knowledge of how courts operate, unfamiliarity with legal terms and principles in court proceedings as some of the challenges court reporters encounter.
“Despite the importance of courthouse reporting, judges, lawyers and members of the public often complain about reporting that is inaccurate, biased or short on context. To some, this is because those sent by media houses to do stories about cases have no or little training about the complexities of the justice system, processes of the court and its terminology” said Justice William Ouko.
He lauded KEG for launching the guidelines that he said would go a long way in helping journalists play their cardinal role of informing masses accurately.
“Indeed, apart from reporting in a war zone, court reporting may actually be the most demanding assignment for a reporter. There is need therefore for court reporters to acquaint themselves with the court system, language and procedures to effectively carry out their duties. It is not a simple ‘pen and pad’ affair” he stated.
KEG Vice President Samuel Maina who is also the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation Editor-In-Chief said the guidelines will help court reporters navigate through the court processes.
Media Council of Kenya Chairman Maina Muiruri said the launch was timely and that it will be easier for journalists to dissect court reports without getting into trouble.
The book is basically about process of the courts. It introduces journalists to the role of a litigant in civil and criminal matters, the courtroom jargon, how journalists are expected to dress and address authority in the courtroom.
It also highlights what is expected of judges in the newsroom what is expected of journalists while in the courtroom.
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