When Mwai Kibaki announced on Christmas day 1991 that he was resigning from government and leaving President Daniel arap Moi’s ruling KANU, Rose Lukalo was alone on KTN’s news desk. She was the head of the news desk then, and the team had allowed everyone else to take the holiday.
She made the decision to air the announcement, and was fired the next day. The National Council of NGOs, then a staunch advocate of multi-partyism and civil rights, came to her defense, branding her dismissal as an offense against free press.
Much was revealed to Rose at that time; she saw clearly for the first time how the press fits within the wider political panorama, both as a force of political power in own right, but also as the object of political power.
Rose herself has been a significant force in Kenyan media since then, at times as an outsider, including her work to shed light on the violence of the Rift under Moi’s presidency, though eventually again as an insider, including her time leading the Nation Group’s first foray into TV news.
By 2011, Rose had grown concerned that the future of Kenyan media was being debated blindly. Huge gaps existed in our knowledge. How is ownership and commercialism influencing the media’s coverage? How is news consumption changing? Do we have the right policies in place to encourage a vibrant and independent media?
Driven by this concern, Rose founded the Media Policy Research Centre to mobilize policy research, dialogue and capacity development to support the growth of responsive and responsible media in Kenya.
The Media Policy Research Centre and the Networked News Lab share many objectives, and with Rose joining our network in January 2015, we can now work together towards achieving them.