Gender Portrayal in the Mass Media: Analysis of Coverage by Two Newspapers in 2002 Election Campaigns in Kenya
Cherogony, Lucy Cheluget
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This Study focuses on increasing our understanding of the place of mass media in the fight for women's empowerment. There is no doubt that media messages and images are a powerful tool in shaping attitudes, perceptions, and values concerning women in society. The findings will specifically enhance and support gender equality activities by highlighting weakness in the mass media in its portrayal of female political aspirants and by proposing practical solutions to these weaknesses. Moreover, this study will guide aspiring women politicians to build positive relations with media houses and professionals to improve their portrayal and coverage. Finally, this study will help gender scholars to move beyond the complaints about the inadequacies of media content, and look into practical ways of correcting this imbalance. This study utilised data from the main local dailies namely, the Daily Nation and the Standard from October to December 2002, that is, from the close of parliament to election. This duration also covered the 21 official campaign days. The two daily newspapers carried out constituency-by-constituency analyses of contestants during the campaign period hence they contained sufficient data for the purposes of this study. The two dailies were chosen at the exclusion of others owing to their wide reach. The study concludes that in a highly patriarchal society like Kenya, deficiencies in the coverage of women's issues are significant. In all likelihood, women reporters who covered parliamentary aspirants gave both genders equal coverage but men reporters were biased against women contestants.