Trends in print media coverage of the Kibaki presidency: 2003-2007
Wayumba, Iddah W
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Media is any democratic society plays an important role of keeping people informed and the explosive impact of the mass media on the political and governmental process has brought about changes in politics, public administration and the international relations. Interrelationship between government and media has given rise to many dimensions that must be explo-red and understood. Problems such as social, economic, legal and political implications of the communication process exist when dealing with government. Such include the problem of restriction, censorship, distortions and propaganda, freedoms and national security and of organization and technology. In Kenya, the 'Print media has 'been 'blamed for being hostile to the government of president Kibaki ( Kibaki Presidency), in various occasions. Such blame has mostly been directed to one of the leading media houses. The Standard Group has been accused of tearing down President Kibaki's government by highlighting negative issues and at times being disrespectful to the office of the president. Inevitably, as a result of such conflict between the media and President Kibaki's government, there has been conflict resulting to several attacks on the media. This paper therefore seeks to address the following research questions: (1) what trends emerge in print media coverage of the Kibaki presidency? And (2) what role did print media play under the Kibaki presidency? Content analyses study of the coverage of President Mwai Kibaki's government was the main study unit and newspaper articles the coding units. The study focused on only those instances that the presidency was highlighted by print media. This meant that from the data collected, the study took into account all articles, features and editorial content that directly talked about President Kibaki within their title in both The Daily Nation and The Standard newspapers between the year 2003 and 2007. However, due to time and cost limitations, not all articles within the five-year period were looked at. Purposive sampling was employed and a few politically significant months selected in Kibaki's presidency as follows: The first two months January and February 2003; the period between May and June 2004; the period between November and December 2005; the period between February and March 2006; and the last two months to be considered were January and February 2007.This was a total of 10 months in the 5 years. The study's findings indicated that authoritarian coverage by print media under the Kibaki presidency was minimal and declined over time; free press was substantial and steadily increased over time reaching its peak in the year 2006 but steadily decreased towards the year 2007; social responsibility was highest at the beginning in the year 2003 and steadily decreased to its lowest in the year 2006 with a steady increase to the year 2007; while soviet print media coverage of the Kibaki presidency was only witnessed in the year 2007. Findings also indicated that the major role of print media under the Kibaki presidency was shaping public opinion which moved from high to low between 2003 and 2004; low to high between 2004 and 2006; and high to low between 2006 and 2007. Print media's agenda setting role alternated with the social responsibility role over time but at lower proportions. Individual framing was the least played of the three analyzed print media roles and it steadily rose over the period with a decline in the year 2007. Consequently, conclusions and recommendations were drawn based on the study's findings.