The role of media in conflict management: a case of the 2007/2008 post election violence in Kenya
Nakitare, Racheal I
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of media in conflict management. The sample population was through stratified sampling of the selected population of Mombasa city. Mombasa was selected because it was one of the regions that experienced spiral post election violence. Its urban features gives the research a unique perspective of an area which was not dominated by either of the main ethnic blocks involved in the conflict, yet was greatly influenced to full scale violence. One treporter (Cleopatra Mukula) reported that 'Mombasa normally a peaceful city was now in flames' . There have been glaring gaps in reports on the Post. Election violence who have had their spotlight on other regions like the Rift Valley, Western, Nyanza and Nairobi with very few (if any ) reports on Mombasa. The sample constituted all the classes of the society i.e. men, women and the youths who participated in the 2007 presidential election. Data collection was done between July 10th and August ih 2012. Questionnaires and interviews were used in data collection. The objective of the study was to establish the role that media plays in a conflict with specific reference to Kenya's Post Election Violence. The study went further to explore the impact media has on violence and the possibility of injecting peace building tenets without compromising journalistic principles while reporting during a conflict. The study measured media objectivity, honesty, responsibility and fairness and how the reporting mode could have escalated the conflict. Questions were asked to establish the impact the reporting had on different people, the mediums used and the factors that determined content on any given media. The study found that most of the respondents heavily rely on media for information especially during conflict. Most of the respondents felt that media reports were skewed in favour of certain parties and positions. They said reporters were first viewed as belonging to certain tribes or media before being identified with the profession. This is because media houses also openly took sides with the opposing factions in the conflict because of perceived commercial interests, ownership or political inclination. Because the media was caught up in the emotional web, they forgot their social responsibility to unite people and were swept away in the conflict euphoria, hence viewed as inciting the masses. The study concludes that the media is an important vessel in which citizens can receive education as well as know what is happening far beyond their homes and that the media should always be a channel of uniting the people of a nation. Media should consciously work towards conflict resolution and drive the agenda towards peace building.