Factors determining the emergence and proliferation of alternative press in the Kenyan Society
Kung'u, Mathews K
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Alternative press in Kenya has in the recent past grown tremendously a phenomenon that can be said to have been brought about by changing political environment in the couqtry with the advent of multi-party politics. The political climate during the struggle for multi-party democracy in Kenya from early 1990's, the interests of the political class and the strong relationship between the ruling class and the mainstream media house owners brought about a self-censorship on the part of mainstream media houses which created an information flow vacuum in socio-political and economic news coverage. The resultant effect was a strong emergence of alternative publications which sprang up to fill the gaps created by the self-censorship exercised by the mainstream media. This study is an investigation of the various factors that can be considered as the driving force behind the growth of alternative press in Kenya. The study comprised 20 alternative press publications, published and sold in the city of Nairobi. Simple random sampling technique was used to obtain the sample of 20 publications from which the respondents (publishers) were identified. The study interrogated publishers of these publications with the aim of establishing what drove them into sustaining the alternative press culture. The study found out that there existed news gaps (news information vacuum) due to the way the mainstream media covered socio-political and economic issues. The study concluded that the inability of mainstream media to expose socio-political malpractices and inadequate coverage of socio-political and economic rivalry in the Kenyan society left gaps in information flow and this has come out as major factor that has brought about the proliferation of alternative press in Kenya. The study recommends that; the government should provide a conducive environment for alternative press to thrive and that the Writers' Guild should embrace the alternative press as a prime component for socio-political and economic development by creating a framework to guide their operations and contributions to the broader growth of the society.