MEDIA CENSORSHIP IN THE DEVOLVED SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE IN KENYA

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ABSTRACT
Various democratic states globally such as Kenya have espoused devolved governance as a system
of devolution for development. The 2010 Kenyan constitution marked an important achievement
in Kenya’s history. It has considerably been perceived as a breakthrough in the devolution of power
and resources. While devolution is the key vehicle for addressing spatial inequities including
public expenditure, media’s watchdog role as a key player in ensuring prudent use of public
resources is still undermined by various factors. Thus, the aim of the project was to investigate
whether unprincipled journalistic practices as well as the utilization of media organizations by
several vested interests such as county governments are the source of the failure of the media to
discharge its watchdog role. The research utilized descriptive survey. Quantitative as well as
qualitative methods of data collection were utilized. Simple random sampling was utilized to
identify journalists from the mainstream media. Descriptive statistics was used in the data analysis.
The results revealed that there exists limited access to the county budget documents prior to being
tabled in the county assemblies for debate and passage. The study found out that, the county
governments always allocate funds for advertisement and that there are stories that are not aired
due to the advertisements from the county governments. The study established that county
governments monitor the media houses and companies and essentially place their advertisement
with media houses and companies that do their bidding. Therefore,media houses that air or publish
negative stories always face the threat of losing out on advertisements revenues from the county
governments. This has not only resulted in self-censorship, but study also found out that there are
instances when county governments were called to comment through the media to report on certain
expenditure stories to attract advertisements revenues from the county governments.

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