Date of Award
Master of Arts in Digital Journalism (MADJ)
Graduate School of Media and Communications
This study sought to find out if online audience feedback in terms of engagement, correction and criticism of news stories produced by the media, leads to certain decisions by the media that amounts to accountability. The objectives of this study were; (a) to examine the nature of audience feedback to news stories in Kenya, (b) to determine how media responds to audience feedback on news stories, (c) to examine how the engagement, correction and criticism of news stories by online audiences leads to more accountability in the media, (d) to establish whether prompt reaction by online audience has led to a responsive media. Online audience behaviour was gauged through the active audience theory. The researcher conducted interviews with 15 respondents from five media houses, namely BBC Africa, Nation Media Group, Standard Group, Royal Media Services and Radio Africa. Content analysis was also done using stories extracted from online platforms of the media houses on the coverage of the NYS II Scandal for NMG, SG, Radio Africa Group and Royal Media Services and the night runners for BBC Africa. This study found out that online audience feedback has led to more accountability on the part of the media. Also, that the media takes issue with the nature of audience feedback. Media noted that feedback is mostly harmful to their characters personally and professionally. It is at times subjective, based on feelings and emotions rather than facts that could be used to improve on the profession. This study recommended the need for media literacy skills for the public which in turn will help improve how feedback is given to improve on calls for accountability. The study recommended further inquiry on the mental health of journalists in the wake of constant criticism, trolls and backlash on their personal and professional lives.
Okumu, A. A. (2020). Online audience feedback and media accountability in Kenya’s mainstream media (Unpublished master's dissertation). Aga Khan University, East Africa.