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Role Of Media In Conflict Essay

3944 words - 16 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, ...view middle of the document...

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 thereafter, there have been reports that they whitewashed the political violence and even constructed reality in their reporting. Journalists were unmistakably attached to the violence, reasons for which could be found a phenomenon of 'journalism of attachment', coined by former BBC correspondent Martin Bell. He proposes that journalists are participants in the conflict they report, and as a result take part in the public debate of the conflict. Stereotyping of belligerent parties was also obvious in the media as reporters and radio presenters sympathized with who they considered the underdog in the crisis. There was partiality in the coverage of the violence as journalists and media houses as a whole identified a victim and a culprit in the conflict, mainly reporting the grievances of the 'good guys'. Construction of reality was very apparent as the media shied away from reporting the underlying issues that led to the violence and mainly concentrated on bringing to the people the bloody pictures of the conflict.These concepts that try to explain the role of media in the Kenyan post election violence are investigated in this paper.The Kenya's media landscapeFreedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are all guaranteed in the Kenyan constitution. The public service broadcasting ethos, with the duty to 'inform, educate and entertain' predominates. There has been a culture of fairness and independence of journalists in reporting in the mainstream media. Broadcasting in Kenya was originally modelled along those of her colonial master, Britain. The pioneer national radio station in Kenya was modelled along those of her colonial master-the BBC. Since the introduction of radio by colonial rule in 1927, many radio and television stations have emerged. Before the emergence of private-owned television stations and Fm radio stations, the government manipulated the national broadcasting channel during elections in favour of the incumbent...

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