Date of Award

5-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Digital Journalism (MADJ)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Sam Kamau

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Samuel Ngigi

Department

Graduate School of Media and Communications

Abstract

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Kenya in March 2020 created an unprecedented challenge to media houses. Media coverage of the disease raised questions on the best approach that can be used for reporting the Covid-19 crisis and whether journalists should only report the reality of the social and economic impact of the pandemic or they have a duty to also tell stories on the responses to the crisis, an approach referred to as solutions journalism. The study’s objectives were: - (i) examine the major themes in the coverage of Covid-19 pandemic in Kenya’s media, (ii) to explore the extent to which stories in the Daily Nation and Standard newspapers incorporated solutions journalism approaches in the coverage of Covid-19 pandemic, (iii) to assess the level of awareness of solutions journalism among editors in the Daily Nation and Standard newspaper, and (iv) establish the challenges journalists from Daily Nation and the Standard Newspaper encountered in covering stories of the pandemic from a solutions journalism lens. The researcher adopted normative social responsibility theory as theoretical framework. The study employed mixed methods approach and descriptive research design to assess whether the solutions journalism approach was adopted in the coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic in Kenya. The researcher carried out quantitative content analysis of stories published in the Daily Nation and Standard Newspapers between March 14 and May 14, 2020. Data was collected through code sheet, key informant interview, and focus group discussion. The findings denote low awareness of solution journalism among the journalists from the two media stations resulting to 15% application in the coverage of Covid-19 pandemic. The reportage around Covid-19 focused on the statistics of the cases, health guidelines and protocols, government restrictions and the impacts of the pandemic. Most of the Covid-19 news was presented in a negative manner thereby creating fear and panic among the readers. The Covid-19 pandemic created a new norm in which journalists had to conform to which created challenges in gathering and reportage of the pandemic. The study concluded that although the media played a role in creating awareness on the pandemic, most of the coverage was negative. The study further, established that there is low awareness on solutions journalism, with only 16 per cent of stories on covid taking a solutions approach. The study recommended that there is need to train journalists and editors on solutions journalism, develop policies that encourage adoption of solutions journalism and forge partnerships with stakeholders who support the development of a solutions approach. The researcher suggested further investigation on whether other mediums such as radio, TV and digital platforms incorporate solutions journalism in their reportage.

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