Influence of Commercial Interests in Editorial Independence: a Study of the Kenyan Print Media
Mokaya, Julius K
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Serving public interest is one of the key tenets of the media. However, over time, this principle is being eroded due to the influence of commercial considerations over editorial freedom and decisions in media organisations and their operations. This unfolding situation has forced the editorial fraternity to adopt a pro-business approach in the selection, packaging and dissemination of content without compromising the commercial interests of their respective organisations. This study, therefore, sought to establish the influence of commercial interests in editorial independence within the Kenyan print media. The objectives of the study were; (i) To establish the balance between commercial interests and editorial independence within the Kenyan print media, (ii) To investigate how editors cushion themselves against commercial interests in their selection and use of editorial content within the Kenyan media and (iii) To establish factors that influence the choice of news and editorial content within the Kenyan print media. The study was guided by the Descriptive and Manufacturing Consent theories. Descriptive research design was used with a qualitative approach. The target population for this study was senior editors who were purposively selected from Kenya‟s two leading print media outlets, Nation and the Standard Newspapers. The sample size for this study was 15 respondents specifically selected from the two leading newspapers by virtue of their experience and information including eight and seven senior editors from the Nation and the Standard Newspapers, respectively. The study used purposive sampling technique and an interview guide to collect data, which was later analysed thematically generating trends that informed generation of themes and narratives. The study found that editorial content and news is influenced by a number of factors including commercial interests from big advertisers, media ownership and control, timeliness, public interest, newsworthiness, politicians and journalists‟ personal gains. Also, there is a big link between commercial interest and editorial independence because the two have since become intertwined. Additionally, the study established that editorial independence will continue being compromised by commercial interests, but in order to cushion themselves against commercial interests, it is recommended that editors and media owners give priority to public interests in order to create a favorable image of the media house, which will ultimately lead to increased circulation and profitability. It is recommended that independence of the media to publish balanced, fair and credible content not only serves public interest, but also creates opportunities for the ownership to increase revenues.
University of Nairobi
RightsAttribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
- Faculty of Arts 
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