Media as actors in conflict: a case study of violent electoral conflict in Kenya 2007-2008
Gatimu, Francis M
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This research examines media as actors in conflict with Kenya's 2007-2008 violent electoral conflict as a case study. The broad understanding is informed by the concept of the pivotal role the media plays in every modem struggle for power. The research takes cognizant of the power of the media to influence other actors in a conflict and the public itself and hence influencing the course of a conflict. The objectives of the study is to demonstrate that media are major actors in conflict; establish the role the media played during the 2007-2008 violent electoral conflict in Kenya as well as explore how the same media can be involved in positive management of conflicts. The research is guided by the social responsibility theory which holds that the right to publish is accompanied by obligations to the wider society that go beyond the personal interest, with accountability mechanism to the public clearly in place. The methodology of the research used entails both primary and secondary data sources. The primary sources included interviews and content analysis of newspaper articles published a few weeks to the elections as well as those published when the violence erupted until the signing of the peace accord in February 2008. Analysis and review of books, journals, magazines and reports of various commissions formed the core of secondary data while raw data was analyzed in descriptive perspectives. The key findings of the research are that the media were key actors during the Kenya's 2007-2008 violent electoral conflict. The research found that media indeed contributed negatively to the conflict as media organisations pursued various interests. Despite this negative role, the study also found that the media played a positive role after eruption of the violence by putting pressure on the opposing sides to dialogue and calls to an end of the political crisis. The study found that the media also actively engaged in calling for peace across the country. This demonstrates that the media can be harnessed for positive management of conflicts in a society.