Newsroom Practices Assessing the Effects of News Media Competition on Objectivity in Kenya: A Case of Standard Group

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ABSTRACT
The aim of this study was to assess the effects of news media competitionon objectivity
at the Standard Group. This study was based on three objectives, namely: To assess the
effects of newsroom cultures on objectivity; to examine the effects of technology on
objectivity; and to determine the effects of competition on newsroom practices. This
study adopted in-depth interviews with media experts, namely: News editors, news
reporters, producers and correspondents. Data was collected frompractising journalists
working for the Standard Group. The main focus of these interviews was examining
newsroom practices with the specific focus on how objectivity is applied in the news
production process.This study used the gatekeeping and framing theories. Data generated
from the study was analysed using three themes, including; newsroom cultures, news
media technologies and news media competition. Overall, the study reveals that whereas
objectivity as a key journalistic tenet is well understood and appreciated by media
practitioners, practise remains largelyunatenable. This is given by the fact that whereas
there is a general understanding of what objectivity means among respondents, they
indicate that media practitioners have biases, which largely affect their journalistic
practices, and particularly those relating to news collection and production. The study
also reveals that news technologies are a double-edged sword; they are both beneficial
and obstructive in journalism. In essence, whereas there is a general understanding that
there are positive changes brought about by the appropriation and use of technologies,
for example efficiency and speed of communication, there are also challenges, for
example errors that affect factuality of reports. The research further reveals that these
challenges come about by the need by media outlets and practitioners for instantentity
and immediacy, mostly as a consequence of competition and commercialism. Lastly,
whereas the study reveals that news media competition has enhanced the quality of news
media content and career growth of individual journalists, the counter narrative is that it
has also been a source of many errors and distortion of news media reports that have cast
the media house in bad light.

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