ARTICLE: Most Kenyan journalists enjoy a fair amount of journalistic autonomy

Picture: untitled by JamesWahome, license CC0 1.0

Most Kenyan journalists feel they have freedom to decide what to include in news. Kioko Ireri, of United States International University Africa, conducted a survey in 2012-2013 with 504 Kenyan journalists working in various media, asking about news selection decisions, media freedom and autonomy.

59% of respondents believe there is enough media freedom in Kenya. The researcher also found a positive correlation between media freedom and journalistic autonomy.

Talking about job autonomy and what to include in news, about 16% of respondents describe themselves as having “almost complete freedom”, 32% “a great deal of freedom”, and 40% describe having “some freedom”. Most of the editorial power is vested in influential gatekeepers, such as senior editors, the author states. Along with them, editorial policies influence how independently Kenyan journalists can act.

Male journalists reported higher autonomy than women. That journalism in Kenya in dominated by men (66% of journalists) might explain this finding, the author ponders. Older and more experienced journalists have more freedoms, as do also journalists with academic degrees, those employed full-time, and those with higher salaries. Interestingly, also journalists working for international media outlets reported far higher levels of autonomy than those in local media.

The article “How Kenyan Newspeople Perceive Their Journalistic Latitudes” was published in African Journalism Studies is available online (free abstract).

Picture: untitled by JamesWahome, license CC0 1.0

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