Kenyan Catholic Bishop Cautions against Armchair Journalism, Urges Evidence-based Reports

Bishop Joseph Obanyi during the Eucharistic celebration of the World Day of Communication at St. joseph's Cathedral of Kakamega Diocese/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

A Catholic Bishop in Kenya has challenged journalists in the East African nation to engage in evidence-based reporting, cautioning against armchair journalism.

Bishop Joseph Obanyi who was presiding over Holy Mass Thursday, May 6 to mark, in advance, the 2021 World Day of Communications said that the theme of the May 16 event, “come and See”, invites journalists to encounter the people in their respective situations before reporting about them.

“Communicators are invited to hit the streets. Go out and discover. Take your cameras, take your pen and your paper and go to the situation of the people and write from what you see and experience,” Bishop Obanyi said during the Holy Mass at Joseph’s Cathedral of Kakamega Diocese.

The Bishop who is the Chairman of the Commission for Social Communication of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) added, “The challenge that awaits all of us is to communicate by meeting people, not to remain in the newsroom. Communication is about encountering people.”

“Let us go out and encounter the people in their sufferings, joys and sorrows, celebrations of life and faith, then we shall be authentic and have reached what God wants for us. Let us go, let us see and let us share Jesus Christ in our communication,” the Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Kakamega Diocese who doubles as the Apostolic Administrator of Bungoma Diocese appealed. 



Commemorated annually on the Sunday before Pentecost, the World Day of Communication was established in 1967 by Pope Paul VI to reflect on the challenges and opportunities of modern means of communication.

Making reference to the Holy Father’s message for the 2021 World Communications Day issued 23 January 2021, Bishop Obanyi said, “Pope Francis tells us not to be confined to the newsroom where we generate dry and stale information that is incapable of grasping the truth about humanity.”

“Come into the lives of people, come into their circumstances, into their life situations and see so that when we communicate, we communicate the truth,” said the Kenyan Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of the Diocese of Kakamega since March 2015.

He reiterated the need for evidence-based journalism saying, “This is the way for us. Let us go out there and discover what life is in its form. Let us encounter the reality of the world.” 

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Describing armchair journalism as “a danger”, Bishop Obanyi said that the danger becomes “even greater now when we are told to stay and work at home.”

Rather than using technology for armchair reporting, Bishop Obanyi called on members of the fourth estate to “harness modern technology to motivate us.”

“We are not servants of media propaganda and fake news; we are not ministers of misinformation,” the 54-year-old Bishop said, adding, “People of the media must be at the service of the truth; avoid fake news, propaganda, and misinformation.” 

“We are to be witnesses of the truth,” he underscored.

The Catholic Church leader went on to acknowledge with appreciation the service of journalists saying it is because of their “courage we get to know many things.”


“Some of them are endangering their lives to get us stories,” Bishop Obanyi said in reference to journalists, and added, “We have known the situation of the pandemic, the situation of the poor because of them.”

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.