COMMUNICATING IN THE ERA OF CITIZEN JOURNALISM: A CONVERSATION ON KENYAN ONLINE MEDIA IN RESPONSE TO DEVELOPMENT MESSAGES FROM THE PRESIDENTIAL PRESS TEAM

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ABSTRACT
This study sought to investigate how Kenya’s Presidential Strategic Communications Unit has
employed online media to engage and promote conversations in response to development issues
driven by the Government. The study employed a quantitative and qualitative content analysis
approach to study twitter conversations based on five State House summits meant to discuss the
Government’s progress in addressing key development issues. The study utilised the media
systems dependence theory. The study used a census sample of 1,200 tweets covering five
development issues – health, agriculture, transport and infrastructure and tourism. Data was
collected data using a coding sheet and analysed through descriptive statistics and narrations for
quantitative and qualitative data respectively. Findings showed that the government banks on
social sites like twitter to influence, mobilise and persuade people. This is seen through several
twitter handles being managed by the presidential unit, which has managed to engage the public
aggressively online. These online strategies have been employed tactfully to motivate and
activate the public to engage in the online discussions. The study also found out that people on
twitter have capitalized on this platform to air their grievances, complaints and at the same time
complementing the government for its efforts towards positive development. The study
recommended thatthat county and follow up summits be conducted and digitalization of all
government agencies and ministries be done.

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