Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Digital Journalism (MADJ)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Alex Awiti

Second Supervisor/Advisor

George Gathingi

Third Supervisor/Advisor

Nancy Booker


Graduate School of Media and Communications


The study is motivated by repetitive cycles of drought and food security crises in Kenya where there seems to be no solution in dealing with cyclic but erratic weather patterns. The study focused on examining patterns of coverage and prominence of drought and food security stories in two major Kenyan newspapers, The Nation and The Standard and if these trends were event-driven or influenced by among other factors, politics or alters by humanitarian organizations or the scientific community. This study sought to explore media coverage of drought and food security in Kenya over the entire year 2018 and year 2019. The objectives of this study were: (i) to examine patterns of drought and food security in Kenya, (ii) to identify frames in media reports on food security and drought, and (iii) to explore the tone in stories on drought and food security. The study involved analyzing available previous research material on drought and food security and media reports available in Kenya on the subject to provide a literary background on the study topic. The study used both the framing theory and the agenda-setting theory to gauge the trends and evaluate how these two newspapers covered drought and food security stories during the study period. The study adopted a qualitative research approach. The researcher conducted a quantitative content analysis of newspaper copies from two of Kenya’s leading print newspapers: The Nation and The Standard newspapers. The study analyzed copies of the two newspapers, specifically permanent document formats (PDF) copies for purposes of the study. The stories published by the two newspapers were then analyzed and categorized to get better context and assess the trends of publication over a two-year period as a way of identifying patterns of coverage, trends of coverage and the tone The Nation and The Standard newspapers used in relaying information on drought and food security in Kenya. This study found out that the nature of coverage was sporadic, event-driven and in some cases, stories took a political dimension. The study found that individual newspapers often embarked on setting the agenda on the importance of drought and food security issues by allocating more space to the topic as well as sustained call to action by the relevant authorities. This study concluded that drought and food security stories are generally covered by the two newspapers throughout the year, however, the coverage is usually event-driven and concentrates around major events such as deaths of humans and livestock. The researcher recommended the strengthening of skillsets in newsroom teams tasked with reportage of science and environment-related beats for greater accuracy and underscoring the importance of such information disseminated to Kenyans. The study suggested further investigation on audience research to determine whether Kenyans can be cultured to appreciate scientific media content on a sustained basis as opposed to relaying food and security issues only when major events occur or when linked to politics.