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Role Of Media Essay

3659 words - 15 pages

Discuss the role of media and its contribution to escalation of conflict.Role of Media in Conflict:Contributions of Media to 2007/2008 Post Election Violence in KenyaAbstractAmong the many factors that can affect the occurrence of violence, the role of the media is indubitably one of them. A concern about the role of media in escalation of conflict have been expressed by the many incidences of election-related disputes in most countries in Africa. Although there are many dynamics involved in determination of whether violence may or may not occur, the role of the media is an important factor that has to be considered. This article seeks to examine the role of media in conflict escalation, prior to and after the 2007 post-elections violence in Kenya. The Kenyan media played an important role in creating a wedge between the differing parties and tribes, and as a consequence a simplified, whitewashed picture of the violence and the core issues that led to it. It is, herein, argued that the media, especially Kenya's vernacular radio stations, had a role to play in escalating the ethnic violence that erupted after the December 2007 general election. The analysis offered bring to the forefront the role that media institutions play in fanning political conflict, and present concepts that can be used to study the responsibility of media in conflict situations.IntroductionOn 27th December 2007, Kenyan voters went to the polls to elect the country's next president in a hotly-contested election. The front-runners were the incumbent president Mwai Kibaki of Party of National Unity and the opposition leader Raila Odinga of Orange Democratic Movement. On December 30, the election results were announced that Mwai Kibaki had won and was hurriedly sworn in at State House. Raila Odinga's supporters immediately took to the streets disputing the election outcome. Spontaneous violence erupted from the protests that had started mainly in the opposition strongholds. In the days to follow, there were numerous reports of ruthless killings, rape, forced eviction in what was majorly an ethnic violence. This degenerated into the country's worst humanitarian crisis since independence. Totally, more than 1,200 people were killed and about 300,000 displaced from their homes into temporary camps.On January 22 2008, international reports began to emerge claiming that the local media, especially the vernacular radio stations, were airing inflammatory statements and songs, and were directly responsible for fanning ethnic hatred and largely contributed to the escalation of the violence. Social media and text-messaging also contributed significantly to the spread of hatred between the country's two largest communities; the Kikuyu who were perceived to be sympathetic to Kibaki and the Luo, who were largely pro-Odinga.Although the mainstream media have been praised for the their even-handedness in coverage of the 2007 general election and reportage of the violence that erupted...

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