Date of Award
Master of Arts in Digital Journalism (MADJ)
Graduate School of Media and Communications
The social media revolution continues to impact legacy media’s ethical decision-making protocols, especially when dealing with private and personal information of public figures published on these platforms by non-legacy media actors. The objectives of this study were: to examine the ethical dilemmas that legacy media editors are confronted with when private and confidential information of public figures is reported by non-legacy media content producers; to determine what considerations legacy media journalists make before publishing that information on their platforms; to assess the ethical decision-making protocols that legacy media editors in Kenya follow when dealing with the private information of public figures published online; and to find out how the social media phenomena is impacting the decisions that legacy media editors make in the coverage of public figures’ private and confidential information. The study was anchored on the gatekeeping theory, theory of networked gatekeeping and the theory of social responsibility. A qualitative research approach and the exploratory research design were employed to investigate social media phenomena and public interest journalism in the coverage of public figures in Kenya. The target population for this study were senior editors purposively selected from three news media organizations; Royal Media Services, Nation Media Group, Radio Africa Group that had a national audience reach, and broadcast or published across three platforms (radio, print, digital, Television). The researcher conducted in-depth interviews with senior editors and veteran news editors as key informants. Collected data was analysed thematically. The study established that social media plays a key role in influencing editorial decisions among legacy media editors, it is also a crucial source of information. The study established that legacy media editors often face ethical dilemmas, make ethical considerations, and follow editorial protocols before publishing private and confidential information touching on private officials that have already been published on social media. The research identified six factors that guide editors when making decisions to public such content as editorial guidelines, professional code of conduct, law, news verification and newsworthiness. The study concludes that social media will continue to influence editorial decisions made by legacy media editors. Legacy media houses need to have updated editorial inhouse policies and effective legal offices to help editors in making the decisions.
Kahungu, Evelyne Nyakiega. (2022). How the social media phenomena of publishing private and personal information about prominent public figures is influencing ethical decision making by legacy media editors (Unpublished Master’s Thesis). Aga Khan University. Graduate School of Media & Communications