The ongoing sustainable Blue Economy event being held in Nairobi from 26th-28th November has seen around 1700 delegates from 183 countries. This event has attracted investors, policy makers and entrepreneurs in the sector. More than 300 journalists from both local and international media houses are represented.
Kenya takes serious blue economy because of its proximity to Indian ocean and Lake Victoria. The two water bodies have provided economic development to many Kenyans who depend on them for a livelihood.
However, in the midst of this pomp and colour that has seen Kenya shine on the international arena are acts of injustice on freelance journalists.The ministry of Foreign affairs that has been in charge of the event has provided a working media center that is supposed to host many journalists.
The room has seating space and good internet.
At times the room is half empty with few journalists carrying cameras and notepads streaming in to file their stories. On the side of the room, are beautiful ladies with printed materials of releases and other relevant documents for the conference. At the corner of the table are several bottles of mineral water .
Journalists work under pressure and during such times, one can hardly get few minutes to rush out to get food from a nearby restaurant. “We are fasting in this event, vouchers are being given to known media house journalists and the rest of us are ignored, we are doing the same stories.” A journalist complained.
Probing further from the public relations officer from the ministry of information, she notes that the ministry did not have budget for any form of snack for journalists. But, meal vouchers are seen secretly circulating among few journalists who seem to have a rapport with them.
Most freelance journalists at the event has been denied any form of meal vouchers despite them asking at the information desk about the criteria for offering the cards.
”We have a list that we are using to give the meal vouchers, a lady at the information desk in the media center responded. ”It is not the first time that freelance journalists get this kind of treatment during some events. Most of these journalists have worked for mainstream media houses before. They have either been sacked or resigned.
The work of freelance journalists cannot be ignored, they do very detailed and unique story angles that are sometimes published by international media houses. Being a freelance journalist means that one is good at their work to be able to sell to several outlets.Sadly, it is not noticed in some quarters.
Many story follow-ups from the blue economy will be done by freelance journalists.
They will go and critically think on unique angles about the sustainable blue economy agenda.
Many promises have been made, they will be people‘s watchdog on those promises through their human interest stories.