Covering Kenya's parliament: Assessing the capacity of parliamentary journalists in legislative reporting
Ochieng', Peter O
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This study shone the spotlight on Kenyan parliamentary journalists by assessing their capacity in covering House proceedings. It also sought to find out the challenges that the journalists undergo in the course of their duty. It narrowed down the area of study to journaljsts working for Daily Nation and The Standard Newspapers. The study was based on the Social Responsibility Theory, which is predicated on the principle that the media, as its primary goal, should serve the public by being accurate, truthful, objective, fair and relevant. It employed qualitative research methods that included use of questionnaires, Focus Group Discussions, in-depth interviews, observations and content analysis. Quantitative research method was also used to derive data from qualitative information through analyses of tables and graphs. From the study it emerged that parliamentary journalists' capacity to cover parliamentary proceedings is not satisfactory, but their capacity can be enhanced through training on legislative reporting and as a consequence mastery of procedures of Parliament. This, coupled with experience, availability of relevant materials and grasp of parliamentary Standing Orders can improve reporting on Parliament. The study further established that none of the journalists underwent any formal training on legislative reporting as journalism training institutions do not have such programmes. However, Kenya National Assembly, at its convenience, organise training workshops for journalists covering Parliament. Such initiatives are supported by organisations that champion democracy and good governance, such as State University of New York and DflD. And during their work the journalists encounter various challenges in Parliament. The study established that among the hurdles they encounter are under-staffing, very tight deadlines, erratic internet connection at the Media Centre in Parliament and heavy workload.