The coverage of the drug scourge in the Kenyan media: an analysis of content, trends and quality of coverage
The purpose of this study was to examine the coverage of the drug scourge in the Kenyan mass media with an intent of coming up with appropriate recommendations for designing a media strategy to combat drug abuse and drug trafficking in Kenya. The specific objectives of the study were to: determine the patterns and trends in the drug scourge coverage in the four Kenyan daily newspapers; determine the nature of media coverage in terms of number of articles, their size, article type, placement and prominence; determine the origin of articles covered in the media; determine the the source of articles carried by the daily papers; determine who the main actors are; find out the main subjects focused on in the articles; determine who is to blame for the drug scourge; determine the quality of coverage in terms of balance, informativeness and technical competence; determine how drug abusers and drug traffickers/peddlers are portrayed in the articles; and finally point out apparent weaknesses in the media coverage of the various factors associated with increase in drug abuse. The research technique employed in this study was content analysis. The content analysis was done using a standardized coding sheet and covered a period of 20 months from September 200I to ApriI 2003. Articles about the drug scourge were read, measured, categorised and coded for purposes of description, comparison and analysis. The findings of the study were: the amount of coverage of the drug scourge was quite low; stories on the drug scourge were not assigned much weight as to be placed in the prominent pages/sections; most of the articles were overwhelmingly local as opposed to foreign; main actors in the drug scourge articles were majorly the government and ministry of health closely followed by private individuals and groups; main subjects focused on include mobilization/campaign efforts and arrest/ jailing and court cases; government and government officials received a large share of the blame for widespread of the drug problem; quality of coverage was found to be high. In view of the above findings it is recommended that: there is need for media houses to change their editorial policies with regard to the issues of drug abuse and trafficking; the media need to have more editorials; media need to include more mobilization information in their coverage rather than publishing information and facts per se; there in need for the media to work with other organizations dealing with the drug problem; there is also need for a comprehensive training of journalists to empower them to report on the subject of drug abuse; there is need for various organizations campaigning against the drug scourge to use the media strategically to fight the scourge through media advocacy; media should promote individuals, groups, and organizations that fight the scourge through broad media coverage; and finally media need to censor any in their programming and publication any pro-substance and drug abuse messages and information.