Media looks for violence in Kenya elections
Quick compilation of election day international coverage: a few major articles framing the election, exceptions to the rule, and more complex examples. And two controversial incidences: CNN video on homemade weapons and unsubstantiated reporting of gunshots in Nairobi by France24's Stuart Norval.
- Note: We hope to offer more analysis of the ramifications of such coverage. Thankfully, national media played an integral role in covering the election from multiple angles, in real time, including providing updates of polling place irregularities and tallying challenges, providing quick and trusted information to the Kenyan electorate. Also thankfully, access to international media coverage was restricted mostly to Kenyans on Twitter, who responded loudly.
- THE COVERAGE
- The coverage began early around Mombasa violence. Reuters posted a piece entitled "At least 15 killed on Kenya coast on election day" -- which comes up as the first headline on Kenyan elections in Google News. A spate of similar articles -- particularly springboarding from the Reuters piece -- circulated to smaller newspapers across the US and world.
Meanwhile, national media cited various local sources suggesting the Mombasa violence was likely opportunistic crime, timed strategically for the election (contributions of sources welcome).
- [Note: the above Reuters link to the article we cited seems to redirect to a different piece now, but the original article can be found on Reuters India still, so we have included that link as well.]
- Exceptions to the rule: mainstream coverage putting "violence" into context in the Christian Science Monitor and The Independent.
- Concurrently, the New York Times and Newsweek Magazine published more complex coverage of elections.
They have the same authors, respectively, as previous articles entitled -- by editors, we assume -- "Neighbors Kill Neighbors in Kenya as Election Tensions Stir Age-Old Grievances" (little of which was about the election) and "Kenya's Killer Election: A Tight Race With Ominous 'Consequences'" (little of which was about a potential "killer election")
- A few photos from the NYT's Pictures of the Day series features the Kenya elections. Several at rural polling stations are followed by one of a machete victim in Mombasa. The caption paints the Mombasa violence (on election eve) as the "backdrop" of the election.
- On her NYTimes blog, Michela Wrong demonstrates a constructive way of discussing tribal and ethnic dynamics of the election and country:
- For context, we repost Martin Scott's piece:
- INCIDENT #1
- Setting off a firestorm of public response on Twitter, CNN published a video from the Rift Valley about a "tribal militia". The commentator filmed "guns fashioned from iron piping" and supplies "from the very policemen tasked with protecting them." "The local tribal militia is getting ready for Election Day," CNN reported. When asked if he would resort to violence, having lost everything in the PEV, one displaced Kenyan named Maina responded, "I've got nothing left worth fighting for."
- The questioning of the veracity of this story originated from government sources. Kenyans on Twitter quickly affirmed their claim, citing their own suspicions about the video. Hundreds of tweets, of varying tone, resulted in heightened media attention to the video. It remains unclear whether the video was indeed stage-managed. Skeptical online accusers had little counter-evidence (how to refute a stage-managed act?), and CNN stood by essentially the plausibility of their story (it could have been true?)
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