The role of the print media in conflict resolution: a content analysis of the Daily Nation coverage of the 2008 post election violence in Kenya
Musasia, Caroline S
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This study discusses how the media could be used in conflict resolution and draws parallels from the Kenyan scene especially during the 2008 post election violence. Communication is very important in conflict resolution and here is where the media comes in handy. There is relatively little research on the print media's role in conflict resolution in the country. This study therefore determines the extent to which the Daily Nation newspapers engaged in conflict resolution during the coverage of the 2008 Post Election Violence. The disputed presidential election results of the December 2007 general elections and the 2008 post- election violence put the spotlight on the role of the media during crisis. The study looked into the ways in which this media house covered the post election violence and what role it played in conflict resolution in the country. The media, and especially the mass media, played a key role in the society. Consequently, the media acquired the agenda building function. The media has the 'watchdog', 'teacher' and 'entertainer' roles. Today, there are many conflicts in our societies. In this study, the Daily Nation and the Sunday Nation newspapers were represented in a sample of 81 editions; 64 for the Daily Nation and 17 for the Sunday Nation Newspapers. The findings of this study corroborated the literature review drawn that media and conflict have been friends in disguise since time immemorial (Nina Ognianova, 1996). Today, there are many conflicts in our societies. For example, during the 2008 post election violence in Kenya, alleged historical injustices emerged as the conflict progressed and this escalated the violence. The media also plays a role in the diffusion of new ideas in society. The media also plays the role of communicating and explaining change to the people. The media therefore mirrors the society and is the voice of the people. It is therefore true to state that the media cannot avoid conflicts as conflict sells and sales is what the-media owners want. Media owners also determine what or how the media operates. All said and done, the media has to avoid at all costs commercializing conflict for financial gain. Media practitioners therefore play the role of peace makers. During the post election violence, the mainstream media houses gave various analyses of political issues. Through issue framing, the media mayor may not escalate conflict. Often the media i§ accused of reporting conflicts out of context, thus escalating the conflicts. In this study, and in line with the literature review, the media played a key role during conflicts and can positively or negatively influence the outcome of such conflicts. Findings from this study placed the Daily Nation newspaper in a key position in the coverage of the violence. It was found out that the Daily Nation newspaper constructively participated in the plea for conflict resolution after the post election violence among other findings.