KENYA 2022 ELECTIONS: FINDING THE GENDER BALANCE

We are effectively into the election year. Kenya’s general election are due to be held in August 2022. In the last few weeks there’s been a heightening of political activities across the country. As with every electoral cycle, the issue of participation and representation of women will come into sharp focus. The constitution requires that not more than two thirds of the members of any elective body consist of one gender. 11 years after the constitution was passed, this threshold is far from being realized. Following the 2017 election, women made up 7.9% of elected MPs (from the 290 constituencies), 6.4% of Governors and Senators and 6.6% of elected MCAs. Regionally (East Africa) Kenya lags behind in the representation of women.

A variety of reasons account for the low representation of Kenyan women in political leadership. Top of the pile is the impact of age old social-cultural norms that define gender roles in our communities.  This has proved a major hindrance to women achieving political leadership. Political campaigns tend to be quite expensive. A study estimated the cost of running for an MP seat in 2017 to range between 20-35 million Kenya shillings. Due to socio-cultural norms that govern ownership and access to property and capital, women are greatly disadvantaged when it comes to raising resources for campaigning.

High media visibility of political candidates contributes to likelihood of success, but women candidates are less visible in the media. A 2019 global study commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, found that men remain the vast majority of quoted experts and sources in political news coverage and that the share of voice by men is 7 times that of women. The male dominance of political leadership spaces means that male candidates in competition with female candidates benefit from the unconscious bias of the voters i.e. voters unconsciously equate political leadership with men. The dominance also means that male candidates have abundance of role models to learn and get inspiration from. Female candidates competing with male candidates for the same seat and with similar qualifications and experience must work at least twice as hard to compete favorably.

As we head towards the August 2022 election, the need to increase the number of elected women representatives across the board has never been more apparent. In order for this to happen, female candidates for election require a lot of support. Strategic election planning training can make a significant contribution towards the success of female candidates in election. This refers to the capacity to approach electoral campaigning strategically. It involves analysis and use of data on demographics, past elections and voter trends to inform a candidate’s campaign plan. Strategic election planning allows a candidate to efficiently and effectively utilize limited resources and time during campaigns while greatly increasing the chances of success. Female candidates for election can also greatly benefit from increased visibility as a result of effective branding and messaging using digital/social media platforms. Digital/social media can be a useful alternative platform for visibility for female candidates during the campaigns. Proper branding on these platforms can also lead to getting noticed and profiled on traditional media which ultimately leads to getting known by more electorates. Learning from, inspiration and motivation by senior elected female colleagues can also add great value to female candidates running for election, particularly for those running for the first time.

With funding from the Canada High Commission’s Fund for Local Initiative, Media Focus on Africa (MFA) is embarking on a project to support 20 women aspirants for various elective seats from the counties of Narok, Nyandarua, West Pokot and Kajiado. The goal of the project is “Strengthening the democratic participation of women in Kenya”.   These 4 counties were chosen because they are among those counties in Kenya that have some of the least numbers of elected women throughout Kenya’s history. The support in form of training will expose the women to Strategic election planning and digital media skills for campaigning. In addition the women shall receive motivation and inspiration from elected female colleagues. The project will run for the next 4-6 months.

This project is in line with MFA‘s priority focus area of gender equality. Over the last 5 years, MFA has implemented a number of exciting and successful projects on gender equality including the recently aired popular TV series ‘Ms President’. Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is at the core of the government of Canada International Policy- the Feminist International Assistance Policy.

Image courtesy of UN.

WHY VIRAL SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT IS BAD FOR JOURNALISM

Opinion: Who these days doesn’t have guilty pleasures such as watching endless videos online when you are supposed to be sleeping or working?

My favourite are cat videos, babies, pets, and animals.  The creators of these videos have become the new e-entrepreneurs and social influencers.

To journalists, viral social media content continues to reshape the ways news is to be packaged.   The redefinition of what makes content engaging has put stress on news media to repackage items to fit a new type of consumption.

Journalism vs entertainment

The media has evolved at a speed that journalism is still working at catching up with. One of the conspicuous changes has been the exponential expansion for the production of online content. This has opened the playfield to an uncontrollable number of players. This content is directly competing with journalism.

While the expansion of platforms has created space for diversity, the playfield has been made grossly unlevelled. Journalism in some regions of the world has suffered a colossal slump as a result.

The cost of producing quality journalism remains considerable. Conversely, producing social media content is relatively cheaper and without the need for time-consuming gatekeeping or editorial quality checks.

Changing tastes for audiences

Social media transformed the way audiences consume content.   Online audiences developed traits such as impatience, constant use, consumption on the move, and the luxury of infinite choices.

These traits turned the audience into an insatiable beast that constantly nibbles bits of information.  In return content creators produce shorter and entertaining content.

The word ‘Viral’ was reborn.

It must be viral to show impact?

Numbers are the new definition of impact.  The drivers of impact have become quite obscure if journalism is to retain its depth and analytical values.  Viral content has proved to be driven by entertainment value, bizarre elements, scandalous nature, or emotional appeal.

It’s all about click baits.

Daily journalism may not match these standards.  It is not every good piece of journalism that will contain one or all of the qualities of viral content.

This makes the average reporter’s work remain flat amid bubbling social media viral posts that are dumbed down to attract numbers.   The ability of news and feature stories to engage is now being judged against entertainment on social media.

 

Additional costs for journalism

Facebook’s addition of sponsored content has made it further challenging for unpaid for news content to compete.

Legacy media may still boast of a large following on social media. This is largely inherited from their dominance in the pre-digital era.  Upcoming and alternative media still find it difficult to amass a following online without considerable budgets on social media advertising and branding.

Even for legacy media, social media has been an additional cost. There needs to be trained personnel, repackaging of long-form journalism to short form as well as necessary apps and software.

The cost of retraining journalists to write and produce for social media is considerable.  There has also been a shift in work culture, such as the need to use mobile phones for journalism.  All come at a cost.

Preserving long-form journalism in the digital space

The sacred space of journalism has always been under threat.  Media freedoms must be continually fought for.

While the digital space was hailed to provide a leeway for alternative voices which would have been an addition to press freedom and freedom of information and expression, the trend is changing fast.

Digital may soon be just like mainstream. Many good pieces of journalism get drowned in the sea of ‘viral’.   The ‘viral’ virus has infected journalism and a cure is needed.

All the funny videos online are good for audiences, people need comic relief. However, the truths and perspectives that journalism offers are the lifeblood of our democracy and freedoms.

 A new social influence audit

 Journalism has to redefine its social media influence.

An audit of followers, comments, and real-life impact may give fair indicators of how a story is performing.  The metrics for other social media content should not be used to judge journalistic engagement.

CONVALESCING NEWS MEDIA CREDIBILITY DURING COVID 19 TIMES

Analysis: “Coronavirus” and “COVID19” pandemic are now key words in most of our conversations. It is almost impossible to write a news story without finding how it links to the pandemic. Business news, politics, and sports all have to be hinged on the global health crisis.

Reporter’s scripts across the globe have been synchronised into numbers of infections, deaths, and recoveries. Governments have become a key source of news and in many instances the only source. Journalists have to rely on frequent press briefing from the political leadership and their appointed bureaucrats. In Kenya as many parts of the world, the frequency of news bulletins increased as per the need of governments to release new information to the public. Social media became awash with misleading information and soon lost its glimmer as the alternative or the channel of dissent.

The complexity and uniqueness of the pandemic did not only present global health systems with shock but journalism alike was thrust into an unorthodox space for storytelling. The strict rules of lockdowns, curfews, social distancing, and disruption of public transportation isolated news sources from the reach of journalists. Frontline medical workers, convalescents, and quarantined people could have been alternative and additional sources. However, the public health guidelines in place delayed a reach to these sources and some instances cut them out completely from being part of the story.

At the same time, many newsrooms adopted working from home while only skeleton staff went to work physically. The demand for information on COVID- 19 meant little time to do in-depth journalism. Scientific knowledge of the virus has not been within quick access due to the novel nature of the disease. This further thinned out sources of information for journalists.

Government departments seemed to the last source standing. While this gave a sense of authority to the information released to the media, dissenting voices became a target. Individuals who raised contradicting views were easily branded as fake news mongers and at times met with a harsh response.

The most recent survey from Infotrack, a Kenyan research firm, revealed that news media trust came second to the government while social media dropped to the bottom with only 35% of respondents crediting the platforms’ trustworthiness.

Journalism has endured a tough terrain with eroding trust and blame for overfeeding audiences with bad news. Many may argue on the point of what makes news. Universally, bad news is news. A section of audiences got fatigued with the bleak news of the virus. News media became a victim of backlash for a population suffering from fear and anxiety over the unbearable impact the pandemic has on their lives. It is fair that at a time like this, the masses need relief from bad news, but journalism doesn’t have to be tasked with the search for solace. At the core of the craft is to hold power to account to alert audiences of any deviations from the course of the public good. Naturally, this is packaged as bad news.

Timely and truthful information from the news media is vital for triggering change. In countries where the media operates freely, journalism is often hailed for provoking change in public matters of governance and accountability. The Coronavirus continues to present our world with unrivalled obstacles. The social and economic lives of entire countries and individual citizens have been thrust into deep uncertainty. The media and journalism industry will not grope its way of out the challenge but has to take off the blindfold and fearlessly reclaim its trust and duty to the audiences.

By Frenny Jowi, Project Officer at Media Focus on Africa

KENYA MEDIA WEEK 2019

The 2019 Kenya Media Week was a follow up to the very successful 2018 Kenya Media Week. It was launched at a one-day conference in August 2019 and was subsequently held over three days in November 2019. MFA organized the conference to explore key issues facing journalism in the digital space in  Kenya today. Just like in 2018, the conference harnessed insights from academic research, the experience of journalists as well as the bold voices of audiences and citizen journalists who use digital platforms to shape Kenya’s journalism. It was designed to enable reflection and discussion around contemporary journalism. Through master classes, panel discussions, and presentations, the participants talked to one another, tried various technologies, tested new skills, and tabled ideas.

The financial survival of the journalism profession – disrupted in large part by digital technologies’ influence on practices and audience behavior – remained an important topic during the conference with the first presentation focused on non-profit journalism alternatives in the digital age. This launched a panel discussion that led to a heated debate about who should be considered a journalist.

The heat generated between self-taught and university-trained practitioners illuminated how journalism stands at the intersection of change and further, what times of transition do: they destabilise established names, definitions, skills, and practices, and present new opportunities and ethical challenges.

A detailed publication of the event and all that was discussed can be found on this website at the Resources section. Read and download here. 

CALL FOR REFLECTIVE ESSAYS

In this second edition of Kenya Media Week, we are seeking Kenyan innovative ideas for the Kenyan digital media space. The theme for the 2019 Kenya Media Week is: Expanding Digital Spaces for Journalism. 

The main question is whether non-profit digital news platforms are the alternative for in depth, authoritative, and investigative coverage of matters of great public interest in Kenya? 

Our call for Reflective Essays is an opportunity for journalists, researchers, academics and other professionals with experience and interest in journalism to explore: the emerging innovations, professional identities and ideologies on the digital space for journalism.

Your essay can focus on one of the three areas namely:

–          Digital innovations for journalism

–          Emerging professions in digital media and

–          Ideologies propagated in the digital space 

The essay format

A reflective essay is an analytical piece based on the experience(s) of the writer or of other people observed by the writer. The piece should have illustrations, but it should move beyond examples/anecdotes of experiences to also include perspective and context. The latter include a sense of what those experiences mean in relation to the subject being written about by using facts and opinions from other credible sources.

The Essay should aim to give:

– Illustration (through personal/other examples);

– Context (the political/economic/social climate in which the issue is taking place;

– Perspective (what the experiences given and the issue under discussion mean to the writer).

Each reflective piece should be between 2,500- 3,000 words long, and can be written with the format of introduction, body, and conclusion. The piece may be written in first-person or otherwise, but should not be too informal in tone and style as it will end up as a written record of the issue under discussion. Accepted reflective papers will be presented during the Kenya Media Week 2019, with presenters focusing on the context and perspective in their presentations. 

In each category every winner will receive a token of appreciation 

These essays will be presented during the Kenya Media Week to be held on November 2019

Essays to be sent to: kenyamediaweek@gmail.com

Submission deadline: September 23th 2019

WELCOME TO KENYA MEDIA WEEK 2019

NEW VOICES, EXPANDING SPACES, FUNDING POSSIBILITIES

#MEDIAMATTERSKE  #KENYAMEDIAWEEK2019

Welcome to the second edition of the Kenya Media Week.

Media Focus on Africa, Mobile Journalism Africa and the National Endowment for Democracy are delighted to bring to you this years’ edition of the Kenya Media Week conference. We continue to explore current and emerging trends in digital innovations for journalism. The conference is keen to hear from new voices in journalism. Our intention is to foster collaborations that could promote public interest journalism through digital platforms.

THE CHALLENGE

We are seeking solutions to improving and promoting public interest journalism and especially investigative journalism.The main question is: whether non-profit digital news platforms are the alternative for in depth, authoritative, and investigative coverage of matters of great public interest in Kenya?

THEMATIC AREAS

During the three days, our conversations will explore the following:

– Day 1: Digital innovations for journalism

– Day 2: Emerging professions in digital media and

– Day 3: Ideologies propagated in the digital space

ENGAGE

This conference is a safe space for journalists and media practitioners to debate and critique current models for the media in order to innovate for the future of journalism.This conference has a robust social media coverage plan. Join us on #MediaMattersKE  #KenyaMediaWeek2019. Follow us on Twitter @Media_Focus and on Facebook @MediaFocusonAfrica. Let’s Tweet our way to a free press!

CONNECT

We are coming to the end of the year, a perfect time to meet your colleagues in the media, make new contacts and get ground breaking ideas to implement next year.Learn. Get inspired. Go out and make a difference in your media organization. Join us from November 20th to 22nd.We hope you will enjoy the experience. Let’s work together in supporting journalism and a free press!

KENYA MEDIA WEEK 2018

Kenya Media Week 2018 was a Grand Three Day Event that included presentations, panel discussions and exploration of media opportunities with Kenya’s leading journalists, researchers and key media stakeholders. They shared their insights and reflections on the future of Kenya’s journalism and media trends.

The first of its kind media gathering brought together great minds from the world of academia and media. Some of the speakers included Patrick Gathara, a renowned Kenyan journalist, cartoonist,  blogger, and author, Swaleh Mdoe, ranked as one of the best Kiswahili news anchors in Kenya, Dr. Wambui Wamunyu, head of Media studies at Daystar University, Patience Nyange, Senior Human Rights Officer, Kenya Human Rights Commission, Jessica Musila, Executive Director, Mzalendo, Johnson Mwakazi, Founder, The Royal Voice, Terry Anne Chebet, CEO, Fanaka TV, Luke Kizito,  Founder Signs Media, Marren Anot, Business Manager, Standard Media  Group , Njeri Kirieni,  Media and Research Consultant, Kenya Audience Research Foundation, Shitemi Khamadi, Bloggers Association of Kenya, Catherine Gicheru, Country manager, Code for Kenya, Christine Nguku – Kenya Editors Guild among others.

This national media conference sought innovative solutions to emerging challenges facing journalism in combating fake news, sustainable funding models for and addressing democracy. It took place on the 12th of September 2018 to 14th September 2018 at the Kenya Cultural Centre, Nairobi.

The discussions were extended online and were happening under the hashtag #MediaMattersKE and #KenyaMediaWeek. The hashtags trended in Kenya on twitter for the 3 days.

A detailed publication of the event and all that was discussed can be downloaded from this website at the Resources section. Read and download here. 

THE 2018 ANNUAL KENYA MEDIA WEEK LAUNCHED

CONCLUSIONS OF THE KENYA MEDIA WEEK 2018

Television, Radio and newspaper media have been urged to stick to its ethics of verification, in depth analysis and fact checking in order to preserve the truth in journalism and countering fake news. Additionally, the media has been urged be creative in order to boost its survival by investing in research to fuel innovation. That was the conclusion at the Kenya Media Week held last week at the Kenya Cultural Centre, Nairobi.

“Rather than rushing to publish a story. Check the facts and gather data before publishing.  Data journalism, fact checking and investigative journalism are taking shape as journalists and media combat fake news,” said Judy Bisem, researcher, MSci. Project Management, Jomo Kenyatta Univeristy of Agriculture and Technology.

WORK ACROSS MEDIA

During the event, there was also a call for journalists to exploit the opportunity presented by the current competition caused by friction between mainstream media and the robust growth of social media. An opportunity to work together across the media.

“We do more work when we (the media industry) collaborate as opposed to all of us trying to do our own thing. The current and new generation of journalists, have gained on the benefits of greater collaboration to make quality news content,” Dr.  Wambui Wamuyu, lecturer, Daystar University.

There were more calls for the mainstream media to ensure news reporting remains for the public good and accessible to all.

“Media is an important tool of democracy but they might not be aware of the power they possess in enlightening the people. Media needs to understand its role in promoting democracy,” Jessica Musila, Executive Director, Mzalendo.

“Instead of setting the agenda, media is now following the government’s agenda,” said Julia Wanjiku, journalist, KBC radio.

OVER 160 MEDIA EXPERTS ATTENDED THE KENYA MEDIA WEEK

The inaugural conference which brought together over 160 media experts; journalists, media researchers, journalism students and interested parties for three days of debate and discussions is expected to be an annual event to keep abreast and prompt innovation in the media sector.

“I have learnt so much about fake news especially the solution being simple, verification. Additionally, the government hasn’t given so much space to media. It doesn’t provide information and facts to the media, “ said Leyian Wallace Mootiun, KBC Radio journalist.

“Kenya Media Week is quite an initiative. The selection of topics attracted the participants. The kind of questions and structure of the conference is exactly what the media is currently facing and talking about. I have learnt so much from the participants and my fellow panelists,” said Anthony Makokha, Digital Media Editor, Nation Media group digital.

“I have been following the conversation online for the last two days before coming here today. It has been very intriguing. I hope we can continue the conversation and not let it end here, but use the ideas and solutions discussed can be really used to improve our sector. I strongly believe that this interaction between experienced journalists and new/upcoming journalists will shape the future of the media,” said Emmanuel Yegon, founder, Mobile Journalism Africa.

The organizers of Kenya Media Week, Media Focus on Africa in partnership with National Endowment for Democracy and experts in the media, have confidence in the value of bringing together media research and industry experts to move the media sector forward.

“We are going to do a publication of all the research papers presented and feedback received over these couple of days,” said Simon Gicia, Communications Officer, Media Focus on Kenya.

MEDIA ROUNDTABLES

From 2011 to 2019, MFA organized media roundtables that sought to examine the role of media on various issues, in conversations with media stakeholders, civil society, government officials, legislators, policy makers and the general public. Every year, the roundtables focused on a subject that MFA felt was of great public interest and coult result in great public good if covered well by the media. Themes ranged from Media and the Constitution Implementation Process , media reporting of county budgets and county expenditure, media and ethnicity,  media coverage of women aspirants during electioneering periods, plus many more. The goal was to promote accountability and responsibility of media practitioners, open media to public participation and build bridges between the media and the different groups mentioned above with the aim of better information sharing.

Watch various insightful Media Roundtable discussions on our YouTube page. Here and Here

The Roundtables were supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and NED, and conducted in partnership with the University of Nairobi’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SOJMC), Media Institute (MI), Kenya Editors’ Guild (KEG), Alliance Française and the Kenya Institute of Media and Communications.

MEDIA & COUNTY BUDGETS ACCOUNTABILITY

MFA partnered with The International Budget Partnerships (IBP) to implement a project that involved building the capacity of county based journalists to understand and report effectively on County budgets as well as report on local government spending so as to ensure it is transparent and improving the lives of County residents. Over the course of three years and covering seven counties namely Taita Taveta, Nyandarua, Busia, Kisumu, Narok, Kitui and Baringo, MFA also organized county roundtable discussions intended to bring together players from the county executive, county assembly, civil society organizations, the media and the public to discuss the roles of these players in the county budget process and how they can all work together for the success of the counties. The project was funded by FORD Foundation and The National Endowment for Democracy.

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We are currently in a forum helping women MCA aspirants prepare for 2022 elections. Rangwe MP - Dr Lilian Gogo is currently mentoring the women and sharing tips and skills to help them navigate their way up. Yesterday, Kisumu MCA - Pamela Odhiambo worked with the women to develop ground strategies for local elections which included dealing with opposition and attacks based on gender. Thank you K24 TV for highlighting the forum in your broadcast. Watch the broadcast here fb.watch/8E_9QzlPbV/#WomenConnect #electionske2022 #SheCanLead #equalitymatters #CFLI #canadafundDr.Lilian Gogo - Rangwe Constituency MP Lilian Gogo Pamela Akinyi Harrison Manga Ndomo Farida Salim Frenny Jowi Juma Tj Tom ... See MoreSee Less
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We are currently in a forum helping women MCA aspirants prepare for 2022 elections. Rangwe MP - Dr Lilian Gogo is currently mentoring the women and sharing tips and skills to help them navigate their way up. Yesterday, Kisumu MCA - Pamela Odhiambo worked with the women to develop ground strategies for local elections which included dealing with opposition and attacks based on gender. Thank you K24 TV for highlighting the forum in your broadcast. Watch the broadcast here fb.watch/8E_9QzlPbV/#WomenConnect #electionske2022 #SheCanLead #equalitymatters #CFLI #canadafundDr.Lilian Gogo - Rangwe Constituency MP Lilian Gogo Pamela Akinyi Harrison Manga Ndomo Farida Salim Frenny Jowi Juma Tj Tom ... See MoreSee Less
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Yesterday, Kisumu MCA - Pamela Odhiambo worked with the women to develop ground strategies for local elections which included dealing with opposition and attacks based on gender.

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We are in a forum helping women MCA aspirants prepare for 2022 elections. Rangwe MP - Dr Lilian Gogo is mentoring the women & sharing tips to help them navigate their way up. Thank you @K24Tv for highlighting the forum https://t.co/yctJ93A3Su

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We are in a forum helping women MCA aspirants prepare for 2022 elections. Rangwe MP - Dr Lilian Gogo is mentoring the women & sharing tips to help them navigate their way up. Thank you @K24Tv for highlighting the forum https://t.co/yctJ93A3Su

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23 women including current governors, women MPs and professionals have declared interest in running for the governors sit in the 2022 Kenya elections. Learn more from @NationAfrica

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A malaria vaccine has been sought for many years and finally one has now been approved by WHO. A big breakthrough in the fight against the killer disease. https://t.co/fIh4ANQBhx Media_Focus photo

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Register to engage with our guest speakers during our main event tomorrow beginning 5 pm EAT.

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HIGHLIGHTS: #DYK Cartoons tell alot of stories sometimes even morethan words? At the #EASTFest21 was an exhibition
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HIGHLIGHTS: Paraphrase: at the #EASTFest21
It is more natural to discuss topics you are passionate about. This is even more engaging! It's a point to note to journalists.
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