- Published: November 13, 2022
- Updated: November 13, 2022
- University / College: Brunel University London
- Language: English
- Downloads: 9
Journalism and its effects on the Kenyan society It is very difficult to imagine a situation when Kenyans will wake up one day and find that there is no radio, newspaper and television channel or internet news content. The mass media has become part and parcel of Kenyans lives to the extent that at least each and every newspaper in the country has its great share of sales. People stream to newsstands every morning to get a glimpse of the headlines in The Daily Nation, Taifa Leo and Business Daily newspapers owned by the Nation Media Group, The Standard by Standard Media Group and the Star and The People Daily.
Those subscribed to mobile phones breaking news services are ever abreast of what is taking place both locally and across the globe. The question any person visiting Kenya for the first time would ask themselves is, what role does the media, especially journalism play in Kenyans’ lives? This is a very critical question and can be answered in two ways: One, until August 4, 2010 when Kenyans passed a new Constitution, it was treason for any ‘ ordinary citizen’ to get ‘ classified information’. Kenyans, including senior Government officials had to rely on the media for whatever was going around in the government circles.
One particular example was during the Moi (President Daniel arap Moi) era when Kenyans would never miss the 1 Pm news on the then Voice of Kenya (later Kenya Broadcasting Corporation ??? KBC) radio. President Moi would announce all major changes in his government using the State (Public) radio. Any minister, Permanent Secretary or provincial commissioner would never dare miss the bulletin. As a result, Kenyans became associated with the radio. But the following morning, they would rush to newsstands to buy newspapers for comprehensive coverage of the same.
But main contributors to the culture of relying on journalism for ‘ juicy’ news were the then Nairobi Law, Financial Times, Weekly Review magazines (all defunct) the People Weekly which changed to daily (and lost its touch) and the only surviving The Weekly Citizen. The latter, operating on the basis of gutter press, was and is viewed by most people who love gossip as a ‘ fearless’ paper that exposes rot and scandals even at the higher levels of government and business community. Secondly, the media has been seen agenda setters in Kenya.
If you want anything to continue being debated within and without government circles, use the media. Kenyans have known this and likewise, some politicians have been using the media to set their campaigns on what should be a national issue. To this end journalism in Kenya has been part of the creation of several important agendas, among them, the achievement of a Kenyan-made constitution. Since 1990, the advents of multiparty democracy in Kenya journalists have boldly supported every move in the struggle of a ‘ Second liberation’ in Kenya.
Regarded the voice of voiceless, journalists in Kenya have always gone an extra mile and highlighted some serious issues affecting the common man. One particular situation was witnessed during the skirmishes occasioned by the disputed 2007 Presidential elections. Kenyans revolted against what they perceived as ‘ stolen’ victory by President Mwai Kibaki of the party of National Unity (PNU) against Raila Odinga who vied on Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). The media took a bold step and highlighted events as they unfolded and even defied an embargo by the then Internal Security minister John Michuki.
In fact after the president went ahead and named a 17 member Cabinet in January 2008, the media blacklisted a section of top government officials as traitors and people who were to be given ‘ total blackout’. This decision was taken by the Media Council of Kenya and the Media Owners of Kenya, especially after it emerged that the same characters were out to muzzle the media through strict regulatory system. Several Kenyans threatened to go on the street. In fact some civil organizations demonstrated against the punitive Kenya Communication (Amendment) Bill 2008 http://www. kenyalaw. rg/Downloads/Bills/2008/THE_KENYA_COMMUNICATIONS_AMENDMENT_%20BILL%202008_2. pdf A year later, the Kenyans members of Parliament (MPs) wanted to pass a Bill allowing them to continue earning huge salaries without paying taxes. The media once again took the responsibility of educating Kenyans on what was their duty and also kept on pressurizing the legislatures against the move. These are not the only benefits that Kenyans have gained through journalism. There are many other socio-economic issues that have continuously attracted the media, as part of its role to the society, being the fourth estate.
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