Kenyan elections through the lens of global media

A compilation of major coverage that demonstrates the state of international media coverage of Kenya and the coming election. Almost all articles in all major publications predict violence, using terms like killer, ominous, machete, hate, tribal politics -- with little documentation.


  1. Martin Scott in the Huffington Post offers some muted notes of caution. We recommend reading this piece first for a list of lessons that could have been learnt from last time. Examining media coverage thus far, we will compare and analyse how international media has fared. Scott's concerns unfortunately appear very well illustrated in international media coverage of the Kenyan elections to date.
  2. For some great humour, check out #tweetlikeaforeignjournalist and #someonetellCNN ... many important points.
  4. Two examples of content published in national media provide context for the below articles. First, a short expert analysis by Daniel Branch, recent author of perhaps the most thorough and extensively researched political history of Kenya from independence to present. Second, we also draw attention to NTV's televised investigative report, Armies of the Underworld, broadcast several days ago, making a distinction between crime and ethnically motivated violence.
  5. One notable example of good international coverage that depicts, through one citizen's voice, where many are coming from. It is in stark contrast to most of the existing coverage, yet it conveys perhaps most accurately the perspective of the typical citizen.
    (Early coverage in major US media outlets =  )
  7. Of the major media outlets that have covered the election and Kenya at all, most suggest violence is very likely. The articles emphasize tribalism and profess Kenya's proclivity for ethnic violence during elections. One satirical piece in the country's largest newspaper highlights the skewed coverage:
  8. Notably, in its 3 March article, The Telegraph offers a bit more context and nuance, more so in the text than in the large photo preceding it. "But the root causes of the post-election violence stretch beyond tribal rivalries to unemployment, corruption, land disputes and a distrust of state institutions."
  9. However, most prominently, last Friday, the New York Times had a front page story on massacres in Tana River (six months ago, with a small outbreak in January), essentially tying the violence to the elections. It was the most prominently placed of very few articles published on Kenya or its election. (The original title was Age-Old Grievances, as visible below and in the URL, which was changed "Neighbors Kill Neighbors as Kenyan Vote Stirs Old Feuds.")
  10. One week later, in response, the Kenyan Ambassador to the United States had published a letter to the editor:
  11. Following that, a few days before the election, the New York Times' Jeffrey Gettleman published this report focused on the context of the election. (We are not sure which part of the reporting came from California: "Somini Sengupta contributed reporting from San Francisco.") In the meantime, in the United States borrowed the Tana River angle and published the piece below.
  12. Employing an approach similar to the New York Times's, the GlobalPost and Salon suggest that Kenya's elections are ALREADY violent, to the extent that 180 people are dead. Published by GlobalPost and reprinted by Salon, the piece links the election to six-month old violence, the same above instance of conflict in Tana River. The article's subtitle reads, "Ahead of elections on Monday, ethnic tensions lead to bloodshed as factions compete for power and resources."
  13. Salon ties the Tana River violence to the elections even further by publishing a photo from the Mathare slum in Nairobi under the headline "In Kenya, tribes vote with bloodshed before elections" -- while the rest of the article focuses on clashes months ago in the Tana River Delta (mostly six months ago) and includes no coverage of violence or elections in Nairobi, nor anywhere else in Kenya.