Peace Journalism is fundamentally a bold endeavor to reconstruct and redefine the journalists’ role in covering conflicts. As an innovative sphere of knowledge, Peace Journalism makes use of several theories as well as disciplines in order to enrich its applicability and validity. Conflict theory remains a key foundation on which peace journalism relies on to augment its analytical and normative rigor. This peace plan will demonstrate how a number of insights derived from conflict theory are able to advance the perspicuity of peace journalism as well as render it an influential tool in the hands of journalists and their audience in realizing the futility of conflicts and in bringing about conflict resolution (Kempf, 2008). The area of interest is Kenya, and in the event that, this peace journalism project is approved, it will require teaching radio journalists to appreciate and put into practice peace journalism. The term peace journalism refers to when reporters and editors make preference that advance peace prospects. The choices made would uphold the positive development of diverse societies that may be recuperating from conflict, while creating an atmosphere accommodating of peace initiatives as well as peacemakers, and beneficial to reconciliation. For radio journalists, peace journalism denotes, among several things, shunning the use of inciting, and inflammatory language (Galtung, 2009).
An Overview of the Media in Kenya
A major main finding of this paper is that the media in Kenyan media has been functioning in an erratic and swiftly varying political, cultural, social, technological, and economic environment that has profoundly prejudiced its development. An inadequate and hostile legal, political, policy as well as the regulatory environment persists to unconstructively impact on the Kenyan media. Unrefined liberalization of telecommunications from the year 1998 led to uneven, slow and disorganized growth in the media business. In contrast, the new constitution is expected to radically transform the environment in which media functions in the country after the enactment of several media legislations in the coming years. The media lacks the resolve, intellectual guidance in addition to, capacity to deal with the diversity of policy, legal, as well as regulatory challenges that face the media industry. Their random management of media laws as well as, regulation pin-points its lack of commitment to deal with critical concerns that face the sector speedily and radically (Mbeke, Ugangu, & Orlale, 2010).
Big investments in media through well managed organizations, have adequate financial resources, and utilize trained journalists, and also have a tendency to uphold high professionalism standards. On the other hand, small, poorly managed investments in media experience serious financial constraints and have a tendency to employ untrained and inexperienced journalists. A majority of journalists are politically biased and openly demonstrate editorial bias. This is in disregard to the journalists’ code of conduct that is available, although adherence and conformity is problematical (Bolter & Grusin, 2010).
The laws that govern Kenyan media are disjointed, and exist in dissimilar sections of criminal and civil laws. Press law in Kenya is found in three sources namely; the Statutory Law, the Common Law, and the Constitution of Kenya. The Kenyan constitution of Kenya is the country’s supreme law and ensures the right to freedom of expression: nevertheless, it avoids the direct mention of freedom of the press as well as other media. This ensures limitations of fundamental freedoms and rights under indistinguishable circumstances, consequently consenting to for the violation of the same rights. The Media Council of Kenya is among the chief media regulators in the country (Mbeke et al., 2010).
The Strengths and Weakness of the Media Council
The greatest strength of the Council is its constitutional foundation. This provides it with clout as well as the legal mandate to perform its functions. Also of comparable significance is the guarantee of sovereignty that the Media Act grants the media Council. This denotes that it can carry out its activities devoid of influence from the Government or the media industry (Mbeke et al., 2010).
The major weakness of the media council is its weak financial base. It is expected to acquire its funding from the media, but this is complex as a result of resistance from a number of media houses. Additionally, its institutional capacity is frail especially taking into consideration the span of its mandate, in addition to, the activities that accompany the mandate. It is apparent that media organizations in the country allocate low premium on exploratory journalism and barely prioritize it. The training institutions do not train sufficiently, and therefore, journalists in Kenya have not acquired ample preparation in peace journalism or even been exposed to the concept of peace journalism. The journalists in Kenya have also not acquired ample training on a diversity of specializations that may facilitate them to explicate the surrounding them to their audiences as well as readers (Mbeke et al., 2010).
Written News Story on Election Violence in Kenya
According to the Human Rights Watch, the development of human rights in Kenya was subjugated by the implementation Kenya’s a new constitution, as well as the associated police and judicial reforms. The cases at the International Criminal Court (ICC) against six individuals charged with of crimes against humanity have also taken prominence over the development of human rights in the country. The supposed crimes were committed for the duration of 2007 to 2008 post-election violence in Kenya. Kenyan politicians defied the ICC process, maintaining that the police and judicial reforms in progress gave adequate cause to have the cases back to Kenya (Human Rights Watch, 2012). Such reports inform the necessity of this project, in that there is a need to ensure that Kenya does not revert to the violence witnessed during the said period.
Significance of the Project
The significance of the project is drawn from the legacy of election violence in sub-Saharan Africa. Recent examples are Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Ivory Coast where the elections’ related violence was fuelled through hate radio. Hate radio refers to the utilization of the airwaves to promote violence and/or, sectarianism; the 1994 Rwandan experience would also serve as a well-known case in point (Bolter & Grusin, 2010). It is in the opinion of this paper that this volatile blend of campaign/electoral tumult and hate radio, in conjunction with the fact that the country has not recuperated fully from the consequences of post election violence in 2007-2008.
The project will run for approximately 10 months, consisting of three most essential parts, and it will be pitched at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, in addition to USAID. It will entail holding approximately 30 seminars all over Kenya, targeting radio journalists along with managers. It will be instrumental in the introduction of a campaign that will bear the message “No to election violence.” The project will also organize Peace Clubs, comprising of groups of Kenyan citizens working in and with the media in order to guarantee an election that would be violence-free. The foremost goal of the peace journalism project will be to avert media exacerbated or induced violence in the upcoming election cycle.
In the context of this project, peace journalism will consists of the utilization of deliberately skilled media to guide the mind-sets of people in the former conflict zones in the practitioner’s preferred direction. At the present time, the plan is to synthesize hypothesis and observations that would originate from the known fields of ethnic clashes. Afterward new data will be collected through the focus groups, together with a few selected university students. A number of professionals in the fields of conflict psychology, communication, and social media, will be involved in in-depth interviews. Finally, all this data information will be utilized in creating a preliminary structure and content for online, participatory portals where positive, equal exchange of everyday information, in addition to, long-term stories can occur between formerly antagonistic entities. However, this will be overseen by administrators who would maintain the content and tenor of the platform in compliance with the theory as well as aspirations on which these media are founded.
This project envisages developing the quality of information that the Kenyan population, especially the warring communities would access in, and after, the election period. It will also help strengthen the capacity and content of community radio and TV programs to cover the news concerning them, rather than depending on foreign agencies or TV stations in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
Bolter, P. & Grusin, R. (2010). Understanding Modern Media. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Galtung, L. (2009). Reporting Conflict: Introduction to Peace Journalism, N.Y: CQ Press.
Human Rights Watch. (2012). World Report 2012: Kenya. Retrieved from http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-kenya
Kempf, T. (2008). Peace Journalism: Analysis & Practice. London: Routledge.
Mbeke, O., Ugangu, W., & Orlale, R. (2010). The Media We Want: The Media Vulnerabilities Study Report. Nairobi: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
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