Journalists and other members of the fourth estate offer to the public facts and figures, examples, experience through feature stories, insight, opinions and clarification. With regard to the international conference on population and development (ICPD25), journalists at the media breakfast were urged to put people at the heart of their discussions. They were urged to use their messages to set the agenda through what they wanted to say and their audience needed to hear and must be supported by evidence.
The expectation from journalists is improved understanding of population and development issues which is critical for knowledge-based reporting. Enhancing advocacy type journalism and promoting a journalism that holds public offices accountable for achieving change for the society is critical. In addition, strong partnerships between media professionals and development agencies for public good will go a long way in meaningful reporting of development issues.
Given that there are too many lies and falsehoods in society today, journalists need to play their rightful role and engage in greater investigative reporting. Country governments are also preparing their own commitments on how to end preventable maternal deaths, eliminate unmet need for modern contraceptives, end gender-based violence, child marriage and female genital mutilation, within the context of Agenda 2030 and the SDGs and these need to be reported. The ICPD25 Summit will be a platform for governments and other organizations to announce voluntary, global commitments including financial ones from governments, international financial institutions and even private sector partners that will accelerate progress geared towards fulfilling the ICPD agenda by 2030.
Working together with civil society organizations, business partners and other development partners, government bodies have come up with commitments that will guide the completion of the work outlined in the ICPD Programme of Action. In Kenya, these commitments have been organized around five specific themes, pertaining to the unfinished business of ICPD. These are Universal Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) in the context of Universal Health Coverage; creating financing momentum; demographic diversity and sustainable development; ending Gender Based Violence and harmful practices against women and girls; SRHR in humanitarian and fragile contexts. The government added five accelerators which are cross-cutting issues that are essential to galvanize actions within each theme, emphasizing the urgency of action, policies and programmes to deliver upon the promise of the ICPD. These are Women’s empowerment and gender equality; Youth leadership and engagement; Political and community leadership; Innovation and data; and Strategic partnerships and South-South collaboration.
The digital age cannot eliminate the need for gatekeepers in the media industry. The emergence of fake news and propaganda industry strengthens the place of professional gatekeeping practices. Members of the fourth estate need a new form of gatekeeping to enhance the accuracy and professional quality of stories and media messages. Informed gatekeeping would redress the asymmetrical focus on some social issues such as health, population and development. In the light of ICPD25, the issues that the journalists need to look into include the level of attention to population dynamics today, the specific roles of Kenyan media in promoting population and development issues. What should also be addressed are the challenges and opportunities for media professionals and institutions in amplifying population dynamics in society and how media gatekeepers should effectively engage with critical population dynamics issues going forward, post-Nairobi Summit.