Date of Award

5-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Digital Journalism (MADJ)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Nancy Booker

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Hesbon Owilla

Department

Graduate School of Media and Communications

Abstract

This study explored how the Kenyan print media covered Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the first seven days after the first infection was confirmed in Kenya. The was guided by the following research objectives: - (i) To find out the prominence the Kenyan media gave COVID-19 stories in the first seven days following the announcement of patient zero, (ii)To identify the frames that were predominantly used by the media in the coverage of COVID-19 following the announcement of patient zero, and (iii)To examine the extent to which COVID-19 stories published in the first seven days following the announcement of patient zero, were covered along the risk of contagion. The theoretical framework adopted for this study was media framing theory. The researcher employed quantitative research approach and directed quantitative content analysis of print media stories that were published in the two main newspapers, Daily Nation and The Standard. The study targeted two newspapers out of a population of 44. The researcher adopted a content analysis code sheet as the data generation tool. Data was analysed using SPSS and presented in form of tables to check for patterns and relationships between variables. The study results showed that the predominant frames used by the Kenyan print media were action and consequence frames while the threat of contagion frame was moderately used. The frames appeared mostly in hard news stories and prominently in high focus stories. The study recommends the adoption of a framework incorporating both the tenets of agenda setting and framing in communication of messages during pandemics, to balance between causing panic and influencing public behaviour. This will give the public a sense of winning the war of stopping the pandemic while at the same time giving them pathways of their responsibility in mitigating contagion. The framework will require that all the stories have the threat of contagion frame and make them more prominent, thus, effectively increasing the media’s efforts in communicating the risk of contagion in the initial days. The media’s focus on the action and consequence frames at the expense of threat of contagion frame facilitated the setting of a different agenda from communicating the risk of contagion, crucial in the initial days to prevent community spread of the virus. The researcher further suggests the conduction of a phenomenological study to analyse lived experiences on the pandemic and more so on how individuals consumed information from the media and how infected and affected persons have been impacted by the pandemic. A follow up study should be done to investigate to what extent coverage has changed one year later after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the country and even possibly compare findings with the outcomes of this study.

Share

COinS