Emergence of Ethnopolitical Journalism in Kenya: Lessons from the 2017 Televised Political Analyses Shows

  • Michael M Ndonye
Keywords: Ethnopolitical Journalism, Ethnopolitics, Horserace Journalism, Mediatized ethnicity, Televised political analyses shows, Ethnopolitical programming


This paper critiques ethnopolitical journalism in televised political analyses of the 2017 electoral process in Kenya. Ethnopolitical journalism is a reporting model characterised by a focus on ethnicity when analysing and describing political situations; leading to ethnic identity formation in the society that places mass media at economic vantage point. Motivated by mediatized ethnicity, Kenyans find themselves perpetually under normalised ethnopolitics and ethnopolitical journalism is a major strategy in the mainstream media. Fourteen televised political analysis shows; from major television channels were examined. The analysis targeted prioritised and dominant topics of discussion, the composition of the panels; the most discussed presidential candidates and the moderator’s leads toward a particular direction during the analyses. The findings show that in all the televised political analysis shows, all members of the panel are drawn from the five ethnic groups. Moreover, all priority topics target the two supposedly major political sides (NASA and Jubilee); whose principals and deputies come from the five ethnic groups. It was also noted that every discussion from different Television channels are narrowed deliberately by the moderator to discuss about Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta, thus, ignoring all other presidential candidates, their political parties and areas considered their strongholds. These findings reveal the media’s deliberate choices of house styles and reporting models during the electoral periods in Kenya. The study concludes that media has been the high priest of ethnicity normalization culture that has shaped the political mindset of Africa to the extent of undermining its transformative leadership. The findings add to the research critical of media practice and political economy of mass media reporting during electioneering periods.