In Kenya, DW Akademie works with local partners to combat hate speech, promote accurate and independent reporting, and help make media house financially sustainable.
Kenya is ridden with conflicts. Given the political polarization and ethnic tensions, hate speech, misinformation and propaganda have increased at a disturbing rate. Although prejudices and stereotypes are rooted in the population, they are reflected or fueled by the media. Media houses trying to counteract this with well-researched stories and conflict-sensitive reporting often hit a wall because many media houses are owned by politicians who stoke up ethnic conflicts and support biased reporting. This is an additional challenge for many smaller media outlets that are struggling to survive financially and lack the equipment or staff to produce skilled reporting.
Despite these problems, media at the national level still strive to fulfil their role as a social conscience and political watchdog. Large profitable newspaper publishers in the country's capital continue to uncover corruption scandals, criticize political decisions or report on social wrongdoings. However, media ownership is highly concentrated: five large media organizations own almost the entire broadcasting sector. These include the private Nation Media Group, Standard Media Group and Royal Media Services.
To help counter hate speech and misinformation, DW Akademie works with local experts and partner organizations to support radio stations in rural areas. The goal is for these stations to report independently, fairly and accurately. A network of investigative research teams helps them determine whether something is true or fake, whether a source is reliable or not, and to recognize biased information. The non-governmental organization Article 19 Eastern Africa focuses on fighting the spread of hate speech. It helps media workers to spot when a heated debate turns into discrimination or violence, and understand what the right to free expression actually covers.
To help stations create a sounder financial base, DW Akademie together with Kenyan experts, is also advising media houses on developing viable business segments and supporting each other in a newly-founded association for stations. The association is also to strengthen the stations' bargaining power when dealing with political decision makers and media organizations.
Funding: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country Coordinator: Jutta vom Hofe
Local partners: Aga Khan University, Article 19 Eastern Africa, Association of Media Women in Kenya, Kenya Correspondents Association, Media Council of Kenya, BUMAH KINA Media Consortium Station Association, Transparency International
Main Focus: Professionalism and economic sustainability of the media sector, media self-regulation and journalistic ethics, participation of disadvantaged population groups, (local) participatory media offerings and citizen media, conflict-sensitive reporting, networks in journalism, blended learning