A Newsroom Divided: Kenya, the Election Crisis, and the Nation Media Group

This is one in a group of cases the Case Consortium @ Columbia developed in conjunction with the Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications (a Consortium member at the time). The cases, which look at various aspects of journalism practice in East Africa and South Africa, are being distributed under an agreement with Columbia University (and will be available on the AKU website).


AKU-13-0001.0 This case examines what happens when personal bias affects the newsroom. In mid-January 2008, post-election tribal violence in Kenya was making international headlines. The editorial director of Nation Media Group, which included the Daily Nation newspaper, had a crisis on his hands: the Daily Nation newsroom was splitting along tribal lines. Reporters who only weeks earlier had been friends and colleagues were tense and barely speaking to one another. Suspicion greeted most editorial decisions. The editorial director had to develop a strategy to address the rising tension within the organisation.

Use the case as a basis for discussing how personal political views can boil over into the workplace. How should a news manager reconcile conflicting factions, especially when the manager may have personal views of his/her own? How much does editors’ own personal background, or others’ perception of that background, influence the news organization’s reputation as well as editorial decisions? The case also raises questions about how to cover conflict. What should be the goal of a news outlet during a conflict—promote stability or report the unvarnished truth? Finally, how credible are sources in a situation of conflict?

This case can be used in a class/course on journalism ethics, editorial management, reporting conflict, ethnicity and race in journalism, or reporting elections and politics.


This case was written for the Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications.

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