Date of Award
Master of Arts in Digital Journalism (MADJ)
Graduate School of Media and Communications
This study examines the relationship between self-censorship and the practice of journalism in Kenya's mainstream media by answering the following questions: What factors drive self-censorship in Kenya's media? What impact does self-censorship have on the practice of journalism? And are journalists willing to self-censor? The study also discusses the findings of different scholars on self-censorship in Africa and other continents. Kenya has one of the most robust and pluralistic media in Africa, however, it still faces challenges in achieving its full potential as a public watchdog. The findings of this study show that self-censorship is a serious threat to the practice of journalism, the practice is linked to the diminishing trust in the media as well as the declining consumption of news content. The study sheds light on the major factors that lead journalists to self-censor categorizing them into three broad components namely: Institutional (ownership and editorial policies), National (politics, economic and legal factors), and personal/cultural factors. Journalists are forced into self-censoring by power players who include media owners, advertisers, the government and politicians. The power players have made regulations meant to put journalists under control, those who dare not to obey are punished. Besides, media organizations need advertisement revenue for survival thus they accept whatever corporate organizations, the state, and politicians tell them to do in exchange for advertising money. This has led to media owners and managers forcing journalists to work under certain policies that influence them to censor themselves. As a result, journalists choose not to write against the interest of power players. They hide facts, leave out information they think will upset the power players and are not willing to work on sensitive stories which they cannot write truths about. The study adopted a mixed-methods research approach, the method provides a better chance to understand whether dishonorable journalistic practices, as well as the utilization of media organizations by several vested interests, are responsible for self-censorship among journalists. The study recommends that media organizations should focus on: production of quality news content, championing for the full implementation of Article 34 in Kenya's Constitution on press freedom and adhere to it, regulate media ownership, and align editorial policies to the journalistic principles.
Okong'o, J. O. (2020). Self-censorship and Journalism practice in mainstream media in Kenya (Unpublished master's dissertation). Aga Khan University, East Africa.