At war: government and media tensions in contemporary Kenya and the implications for public interest

Document Type

Book Chapter


Graduate School of Media and Communications


Traditionally, tension and scepticism define the relationship between the state and media. While media outlets exist to serve public interest by interposing themselves between political authority and the citizenry , this can be compromised when the state seeks to exert control over the press. Since President Uhuru Kenyatta ascended to power in 2013 in Kenya, his Jubilee administration has had a fractious relationship with Kenya’s media, oscillating from mutual suspicion to openly flirty to manifestly frosty. While on one hand the government has been aggressively courting the media and journalists to drive its agenda, public anti-media rhetoric, ill-intentioned laws, threats and intimidation of journalists and, denial of advertising revenue have become all too common in Kenya. Soft censorship approaches have been used to reward favorable coverage and soften media criticism of government, undermining the media’s capacity to serve public interest.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Perspectives on political communication in Africa