Being sceptical: deconstructing media freedom and responsibility

Document Type



Graduate School of Media and Communications


This is my personal account as the former Managing Editor in charge of the weekend editions of The Standard, The Saturday Standard and Sunday Standard. I argue that journalists and editors in Kenya have to contend with constant business and political constraints. The rise of media commercialism means that the news agenda is continuously dictated by corporate values. The obsession with the bottom-line has had negative consequences for the capacity of news media to offer content that addresses issues of genuine public interest. Although there is nothing new about the concern over commercialization of media or the shift from public to private service, the issue of public interest in relation to the proliferation of profit-seeking media finds resonance with those worried about media corporatism and growing obsession with profitability. We must ask critical questions regarding the media’s role and responsibility given rising editorial control and manipulation by proprietors. Who, for example, are the media and journalists accountable to? Is it the public, their audiences, or the owners, editors, managers or advertisers? How can journalists and editors maintain their autonomy while under intense pressure to increase circulation, readership and profitability? How can journalists promote and maintain professional integrity and independence? What can journalists do to maintain editorial freedom and responsibility? These are some of the questions this article responds to.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

African Communication Research

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.