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Posted by: Samuel Ndwiga on 10/01/2016

The Media and Kenyan Image

The Media and Kenyan Image

As the best and most readily accepted means of communication, the media has risen in power and influence with each step towards technological advancement. However, as technology turns the world into one small village through globalization, the media faces uncertainty with regard to its future. People were initially used to carrying radios and making sure, they were seated by seven o’clock in the evening to watch the news. Lately, one can catch the action as soon as it happens all courtesy of the most powerful medium there is now, social media.

The Media Council of Kenya regulates the media in Kenya. The most effective form of media in Kenya is broadcast media with over 15 Television stations. The oldest of them all is the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), founded in 1963. Currently, four major stations are dominant, Citizen Television, KTN, NTV and K24 News. Print media is also big in Kenya with two major newspapers traversing the country, The Nation and The Standard Newspapers. Radio stations have increased in number lately as communities get their own stations reporting in their native language.

The Kenyan media is responsible for the emotions of the Kenyan masses; this is made possible by its ability to reach even the oldest and illiterate of citizens. With its online presence growing by the day, the Kenyan media is not only viewed as the mirror of the country but as a reliable source of knowledge on what happened, is happening and will happen in Kenya. This greatly affects not only how the world sees Kenya but also chances to boost the economy through ventures like tourism that is if the image is positive.

In the wake of the 2007 general elections, Kenya was divided and in the brink of major tribal war. The media was the tool majorly used to remind people of their heritage and calm the situation down by airing peace messages, messages of condolence, efforts to re-unite, coexist and return to being a peaceful country. With thousands deceased and more displaced from their homeland, the international media was not left behind in airing the gruesome state of the country. As a result, some countries handed out travel bans to Kenya, which heavily dented the economy due to tourism as well as Kenya’s image abroad.

In the year 2015, Kenya’s image was a bright, blissful tourist destination full of wonders and amazing people. This was made possible by not only the media but the government too as it oversaw the first ever visit by the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. Despite his Kenyan roots, the visit by the head of state was more state-related than it was a family re-union. Later in the year, the 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis visited Kenya. Both the local and the international media were at the forefront to display this first ever event of its kind and the result was more appeal towards Kenya as a peaceful nation.

The social media in Kenya also plays a major role in highlighting Kenya’s image to the world. Kenyans on Twitter or #KOT as recognized by most is a voice of Kenyans online that shocked the world by forcing an apology out of U.S international television network CNN. This happened after the network called Kenya ‘a hotbed of terror’ when the U.S President, Barrack Obama was in the country. The apology was welcomed and the world saw Kenya in a different light.

In conclusion, the media in any country is greatly responsible for the image of that country. Just as society mirrors a community of people, so does the media mirror a nation. However, this freedom of speech should be used wisely, as the largest incidents can erupt off a single statement from a news anchor or newspaper article. The local media, a big and active online presence as well as the international media, greatly reflect and air the Kenyan image to the world.


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