Digital innovations should support freedom of expression for media to thrive

The world is going digital; so is the media. One of the lessons learnt during the COVID-19 pandemic era is that the media should have embraced digitization earlier. Even for those platforms that had already started using digital tools in journalism, such steps were being taken as an alternative and not as the standard mode of operation.

If asked, such platforms would have cited the high cost of investments in technology and the much-feared effects of “digital disruption” as the reason for the slow pace of tech adoption in the media sector.

This, therefore, explains the apparent rush by many media enterprises to embrace various digital tools, and re-tooling their staff when the pandemic hit, as most institutions and professionals were not ready for the disruption caused by the pandemic, yet the industry needed to stay viable as a business.

The benefits of technology and innovation must always be juxtaposed against their effects on other aspects of life. For the media, for instance, one has to balance the use of emerging technological tool against various values that underpin its operation. Key among these is freedom of expression.

On May 3 annually, the media and its stakeholders across the world commemorate the anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration. It is a day to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; evaluate press freedom around the world; to defend the media from attacks on their independence; and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. The theme for this year is “Shaping a Future of Rights-Freedom of Expression as a Driver for all other human rights”

As a public good, the media is a frontline beneficiary of freedom of expression which guarantees its right to access information and impart knowledge and ideas, hence freedom of the media.

With the current theme it is an opportune moment to reflect on how emerging innovations are enhancing(or not), freedom of expression as an enabler for all other human rights not only for the media but everyone in general.

This year’s commemoration of world press Freedom Day comes on the heels of the publication of the draft guidelines for regulating digital platforms by the United Nations Environment, Cultural and scientific organization (UNESCO) which calls on digital platforms to ensure that human rights and due process considerations are integrated into all stages of the design process, as well as content moderation and curation policies and practices.

“The content moderation and curation policies of digital platforms should be consistent with the obligations of corporations to respect and promote human rights, as set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and other established international human rights standards.

Digital platforms should respect human rights and adhere to international human rights standards in accordance with relevant UN conventions and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,” the guidelines state.

It is already demonstrable that technological tools are capable and indeed already supporting freedom of expression. For instance, tools like blockchain technology have been used to create decentralized platforms for media distribution, which can help to protect against censorship and promote freedom of expression.

These platforms can allow media creators to publish their work directly to audiences without the need for intermediaries, such as publishers or broadcasting networks, thereby reducing the risk of content being censored or manipulated.

Artificial Intelligence can be used to help identify and flag fake news or manipulated media and to ensure that content is fact-checked and verified before it is published thus protecting audiences against disinformation campaigns and promoting accurate reporting.

Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) on the other hand be used to create immersive media experiences that can enhance the quality and impact of news reporting. For example, VR can be used to create virtual tours of news events or to provide a more immersive experience of a location or environment.

Additionally, Social Media Platforms can provide a platform for media creators to distribute their work and reach a wider audience. In terms of media freedom the platforms provide alternative channels for media distribution that are not controlled by traditional media outlets. So are open source technologies can be used to create new media platforms that are transparent and community-driven which can help to promote media diversity and enable a more decentralized media ecosystem.

On the flip side, undesirable practices like censorship can thrive with the use of technology with the effect of limiting access to information and preventing people from expressing their opinions freely. This is closely related to surveillance and monitoring where the work of those with dissenting views can be tracked. This can discourage people from expressing their opinions freely and can lead to self-censorship.

Needless to say, cyberattacks and other activities by malicious actors are enabled by technology while the latter can at the same time be used to spread disinformation and misinformation online, which can undermine trust in news sources and limit access to accurate information. Additionally, algorithms used in social media and other online platforms can amplify certain voices or viewpoints, while suppressing others. This can lead to echo chambers and limit the diversity of opinions and viewpoints that are available online.

Digitization does not have to happen at the expense of freedom of expression; the latter remains the bedrock of all other rights, it is therefore incumbent upon innovators to take up the challenge to address the gaps in the foregoing for freedom of expression and media to thrive even with changing times.

The writer is the Manager, the Press Freedom, Safety and Advocacy-Media Council of Kenya

AM Live

AM Live is NTV's morning current affairs show that sets the agenda for the day with insightful panels every weekday.


Business Redefined

Business Redefined is Kenya’s premier thought leadership platform for unpacking matters regarding economic and finance policy as well demystifying complex developments in the region’s capital markets.


A collection of our premium content. Diam curabitur vehicula A collection of our premium content. Diam curabitur vehicula

Full Episodes

A collection of our premium content. Diam curabitur vehicula A collection of our premium content. Diam curabitur vehicula

Gumzo La Sato

Gumzo La Sato is a live social issues show that aims to create awareness about issues affecting the larger society. The discussions range from Parenting, Marital bliss and struggles, Oppression, violence, and all matters of the Heart.

Health Diary

Health Diary is a weekly show that highlights different types of diseases/conditions and seeks ways to prevent, treat/manage them. The show debunks this through real life stories and also feature specialists in different fields, to offer medical advice on the same.

Letter To My Younger Self

Letter To My Younger Self is a podcast where guests get to write a letter to their younger self, from which Maxine formulates questions to ask them during the hour-long show.

Mazao Talks

Mazao looks at agriculture and agribusiness

Nation Reports

Nation Reports is a weekly podcast offers an opportunity for listeners to interact with various reporters and journey with them as they unravel the biggest most emotive stories.

One Health Lens Podcast

Discussing health matters and human stories from Kenya and across Africa. We talk big picture from people to policy, ecosystems, and everything in between. Follow us on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/onehealthlens

Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost peeks through the story of Louis Otieno, the times, and everything in between.



Speaking of GEN Z

Speaking of Gen Z brings you entertaining but meaningful conversations about a generation that is trying to navigate through adulthood. Join hosts Michelle, Jackie and Esther as they unravel all things Gen Z.

Sport On

Sport-On is a 30-minute sports magazine show on NTV and 3 hours on NATION FM. The show seeks to give the sports “fanatics” and “funatics” comprehensive and in-depth coverage of sports both locally and internationally.


The extent of technological growth is beyond mere acknowledgment; it has seamlessly integrated into our daily existence. A few years ago, the notion of paying electricity bills through mobile money or recharging with 'tokens' in Kenya seemed inconceivable. Online product sales were considered distant, and artificial intelligence is rapidly reshaping various facets of our lives. Amidst these technological leaps, those with a solid understanding of tech can navigate challenges, seize opportunities, and build a sustainable livelihood. Tech over Show aims to be the platform facilitating discussions among thought leaders, innovators, tech companies, and the government, addressing challenges and opportunities in Kenya's thriving tech industry.


Thamani is a business show which is dedicated to emerging issues regarding micro, small and medium size businesses.

The Politalk podcast

This is The Politalk podcast. Here we look into the ins and outs of everything Kenyan politics. We pull no punches and have no reason to sugarcoat anything that matters to Kenyans.

The Trend

A two-hour-long live show that airs on Fridays. The show focuses on what is current in the entertainment industry, controversial and popular across all media platforms targeting those aged between 25 and 35 years.

The trend podcast

The trend podcast highlights and captures the best of banter from #TTTT segment that airs every Friday on NTV. It's the TTTT EXTRA

The Wicked Edition

The Wicked Edition with Dr. King’ori seeks to address serious issues through humour and relatable wit. It is a two-part half hour show filmed in front of a live audience


A collection of our premium content. Diam curabitur vehicula A collection of our premium content. Diam curabitur vehicula


Twende is a travel show that highlights beautiful, unique, diverse locations, people, and cultures. The show offers fresh perspectives on familiar locations and memorable experiences in new ones.


This Saturday evening lifestyle show lets viewers share their stories and life experiences as openly & honestly for the purpose of shifting the culture of silence.

VIP Access

VIP ACCESS is Anyiko Owoko’s YouTube and podcast show on Music and Culture dedicated to promoting Africa’s most promising talent and creatives. This podcast grants you VIP access into timeless interviews while providing a platform for rising as well as established artists across the continent. Since launching in 2018, Anyiko has interviewed over 70 African music stars.


This weekly news show aims to have all sides of debate but not be constrained by it, listen to main voices in the contest but not allow them to hold the viewers hostage, entertain debate but allow push back with all due respect.

When death do us part

In this podcast, three widowers openly speak about the process of grief, how they found themselves exposed to the emotional turmoil of losing their wives, and how society still does not know how to deal with them.

Your World

Your World is a health, wellness and variety show. It provides a platform for audiences and experts to share their experiences on how to improve or manage health issues, across Kenya and the Africa region.