The Kenya Union of Journalists has called on the national and county governments to fast-track the release of funds owed to media houses to facilitate the payment of journalists.
Speaking in Mombasa, KUJ Secretary General Erick Odour, joined by Kenya Editors Guild President Zubeidah Kananu, said media houses have been unable to pay their employees due to several factors including non-payment of advertising charges by the government.
“We have a crisis in the media industry and for us to resolve it we are calling on both the national and county governments to release the funds owed to media Houses so that the media houses can meet their obligations,” said KUJ Sec Gen Erick Oduor.
The KUJ SG also urged media houses to ensure that they pay their employees once the funds from the government and other advertisers are received.
“Let them consider staff welfare as the number one priority because we have a lot of issues arising as a result of non-payment or delayed salaries by these media houses,” said Oduor.
His sentiments come even as several media houses have been reported to have not paid their employees for several months. Oduor said non-payment of salaries was putting media freedom at risk.
“A journalist who has not been paid, a journalist who is broke, a journalist who has not eaten anything cannot protect media freedom,” said the KUJ SG.
Sharing the KUJ SG sentiments, KEG President Zubeidah Kananu has also called on media houses to ensure staff salaries are paid.
“Timely payment and adequate compensation for journalists are essential for their welfare and security,” said KEG President Zubeida Kananu.
The two were speaking following the Kenya Editors Guild Annual Conference in Mombasa where they resolved to include journalists in coming up with reforms for the industry.
“Active participation of journalists and media houses in legal and policy reforms within the country is crucial in fostering a responsible and informed media landscape,” said Zubeidah.
KUJ SG has also called on the review of laws and policies governing the media industry.
“Some of the problems we are facing in the media are because of the current laws. They need to be reviewed and new laws enacted so that we can deal with the crisis being experienced in the industry,” said KUJ SG Eric Oduor.
“We are talking about the welfare of journalists; journalists not being paid; journalists working under difficult environment, these can only be addressed if we change the legal environment we are operating in,” he added.