Out of the dark : A qualitative field study of Kenyan reporters' role in the Somalia conflict

University essay from Institutionen för mediestudier

Abstract: The purpose of this study has been to find out how Kenyan journalists look at their own role in the development of the Somalia conflict and how they work to make sure that they have a positive impact on the situation. The empirical material consists of seven semi-structured interviews with journalists who work in print- or broadcast media in the Kenyan capital Nairobi and who specialises in conflict reporting in general and Somalia more specifically. The interviews were summarised, analysed and presented in a thematic order, based on the initial research questions stated below:    Do Kenyan journalists believe that they can help bring peace and stability in Somalia and if so, how? How do Kenyan journalists look at their own role in reporting about the Somalia conflict? How do Kenyan journalists reason when choosing subjects to report about, angles and sources? The result of the study is very clear: all journalists interviewed believe that they can help bring peace and stability in Somalia. Some even believe that without the media, there won’t be peace in Somalia. However, they look slightly different at their individual roles as reporters covering a conflict in a neighbouring country where their own nation is militarily involved. Some look at themselves as objective messengers that report the truth no matter the implications. Others are sensitive when it comes to showing pictures of dead people or publishing the number of casualties, afraid that it might stir up emotions and cause retaliatory attacks. One journalist stands out as the only one openly supporting a patriotic line that he believes is needed for the Kenyan military to defeat the enemy and in the end achieve peace and stability in the region. They all consider it difficult to remain objective when reporting from Somalia, since they most often need to work embedded with the troops for security reasons. African journalists need to highlight the plight of the Somali people and also report about the positive sides of the region, all journalists believe. It is important to paint a brighter picture of Somalia in order to bring new investments to the poor country. Also, they all emphasise the need to talk to the people of Somalia, to let them speak for themselves, because in the end, only Somalis can bring peace to their country. 

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