The Role of Media in Conflict Management: The Case of Electoral Conflicts in Kenya
Col (Rtd) Zachary K Chebii

The role played by media in conflicts has been an issue of discussion all over the world. Although media influence has increased tremendously in the last decade, researchers are yet to agree on the degree and magnitude of its influence in conflicts. The context analysis of Kenya election coverage and post election conflict of 2007/08 revealed that media has a ‘double-edge’ role in electoral conflict situation i.e. conflict escalation and de-escalation roles. The conflict escalation role is more prevalent with vernacular (local) media stations while the conflict de-escalation role is predominant with nationwide mainstream stations. This affirmed the study conceptualized framework developed from libertarian theory and social responsibility theory of media reporting. In addition, people’s response to conflict coverage is persuaded by their age, gender and social status as human variables. Therefore, to mitigate conflict reporting misrepresentation, specifically in weak democratic states, a common approach to conflict reporting should be designed and adhered to. More importantly, there need to be stringent regulations and control of vernacular (local) FM stations which are prone to manipulation by political elite. This should be coupled with training of journalists on conflict reporting and development of a standard conflict reporting procedure. Lastly, media houses should be discouraged from running parallel tallying centres, a mandate reserved for legitimate electoral body.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jgpc.v3n2a3