Enhancing Media Sensitivity and Sensibility in Kenya Elections 2017

Project Duration : June 2017 – December 2017

Background

In the 2007/8 Post-elections violence more than 1,500 people lost their lives and about 500,000 were displaced. The media was on the spotlight as having fairly contributed in fueling the conflict that brought Kenya to the precipice of destruction.

In the aftermath of the crisis, six Kenyans among them President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President, William Ruto and journalist, Joshua Arap, Sang, stood accused at the International Criminal Court (ICC),  for bearing the most responsibility of fueling the crisis. Though none of the six accused was found guilty, the media’s role in the conflict had already been shone just as in the devastating Rwanda genocide. The Rwanda media was hugely blamed for having escalated the conflict through inflammatory, sensational and biased reporting.

Kenya, it seemed, even with the example of Rwanda, was yet to learn its lesson as was attested in the 2007/8 election and post-election violence. And so was the media.

If the media did not learn any lessons from Rwanda, was there a likelihood that it had not also learnt from the 2007/8 experience? Who would stand in the gap to be the Media’s watchdog in future?

During the 2010 much contested Referendum campaigns, PPC stood in this gap. Through donor support PPC devised and implemented a media monitoring and evaluation project that involved monitoring media coverage of the Referendum campaign – the Yes or No campaigns that was compiled in a Report: Spotlight on Kenya Referendum Campaigns 2010; a 14-day Media Watch Coverage of the Kenya Referendum Campaigns. (Report can be downloaded from this website)

Once again, through support from Rosa Luxemburg Foundation PPC is standing in the gap to monitor and evaluate media coverage of the 2017 General Election. The monitoring and evaluation is pegged on:

  1. Inflammatory
  2. sensational and
  3. biased reporting

Highlights of the Project:

The project involved working with a team of 16 media assistant researcher

During this project PPC particularly focused its pen and lenses on the Media’s coverage of the events of the campaign period, the election itself and the post-election period by acting as watchdog for a special group – the Media

Special Coverage:

The events surrounding the 2017 General Election were particularly of main interest as it is the first time in the history of Kenya’s Elections that the aftermath of the results (August 8th)  were nullified by the Supreme Court. Kenyans had to go back to the ballot on 26th September.

Working with Women Peace Monitors/Builders

One of the key pillars of PPC is to be a professional Media pegged on peace, social justice and community cohesion to sustain positive change. In line with this, PC saw it prudent to work with a team of 12 selected women peace builders/monitors from 12 informal settlements within Nairobi. Just like the media researchers, the women were trained on how to intervene in hostile environment during the elections and beyond. The women were to work with security personnel and partner with Media to report any cases of conflict and violence. This worked greatly in that the women were able to attend press conferences and attend press interviews to carry their messages of peace.

Through monthly workshops and close communication with the media researchers and women peace keepers, the following were accomplished

  • Key achievements and challenges were highlighted
  • Periodically an all-inclusive participation and professionalism was injected in the way the project was carried out
  • Partnerships were built – the Association of Media Women in Kenya (Amwik), Media Council of Kenya (MCK), Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) among others

Highpoint of the project:

The climax of this project is the launch of the Report, slated in December, 2017. During this month the reports were put together, an invalidation exercise was done and the final report written. During the launch event, a high event for PPC, the Researchers will be awarded certificates for being part of this inaugural exercise – Media monitoring of Election coverage by PPC.