A comparative content analysis of print media coverage of Kenyan parliamentarians
There has been growing concern over the low women representation in the Kenyan Legislature. Researchers have tried to establish the blame for women’s underrepresentation in politics with early studies indicating out that men politicians received more total media coverage than women politicians. Newer studies have suggested that coverage for women politicians has improved over time. While the coverage for women politicians was said to have improved over time, less has been done to compare the coverage of parliamentarians (women versus men) in the print media and more specifically, the Nation versus the Standard newspapers, so as to establish the improvements made. Although some studies concluded that there is no gender bias in the media coverage, they failed to consider the quantity and quality of coverage given to the women as compared to the men parliamentarians owing to the fact the number of women in parliament has increased over time. The 11th Parliament saw the highest number of women parliamentarians in the history of Kenya’s political leadership. Having come into being after passing the Constitution of Kenya in 2010, that saw more women than ever in the history of Kenya elected and others nominated to Parliament. The 11th Parliament has a total of 86 women parliamentarians, 63 having been elected and 23 nominated by political parties as compared to over 300 men parliamentarians. This study conducted a comparative content analysis of print news media in the context of the Nation and the Standard Newspapers’ coverage of women and men parliamentarians in Kenya; with a view to compare the quality and quantity of coverage given to the parliamentarians. The sample size for the content analysis was the Daily Nation, Saturday and Sunday Nation, the Standard and the Saturday and Sunday Standard newspapers, for the period of May to June 2014. This period was purposively selected being the time that the national budget is considered by parliament and it was expected that all parliamentarians, aiming at performing their representation, oversight and legislation roles, were to actively participate in the debates thereof. Key findings indicate that the amount of print media coverage given Kenyan women and men parliamentarians was uneven, with women parliamentarians received less coverage compared to their men counterparts. Across the divide, news stories, political analysis, features, editorials and commentaries featured both parliamentarians who were covered in political, economic and social spheres and the articles a took neutral tone with gendered frames not being substantially established. Parliamentarians were covered when both in parliament and when outside parliament and articles on women parliamentarians were placed in the inside pages of the newspapers and were given less space as compared to placement and size given to articles on the men parliamentarians. The research concludes that there is need for enhanced efforts towards equipping women parliamentarians to be able to strategically place themselves and seize up the opportunities provided by the media.