In Kenya, DW Akademie works with local partners to combat hate speech, promote accurate and independent reporting, and help make media house financially sustainable - especially in times of the pandemic.
Kenya is ridden with conflicts. Given the political polarization and ethnic tensions, hate speech, fake news and propaganda have increased at a disturbing rate. These are powered by dangerous rumors about COVID-19, as well as by Russian disinformation campaigns about the war in Ukraine and reasons for the worsening food crisis. Prejudices and stereotypes are often deeply rooted among the population but also reflected or fueled by the media.
Media houses trying to counteract this with well-researched stories and conflict-sensitive reporting often hit a wall because many media are owned by politicians who stoke up ethnic conflicts and support biased reporting. Given the coronavirus pandemic, many media outlets are also struggling to survive financially and lack the equipment or staff needed to produce skilled reporting.
Despite these problems, media at the national level still strive to fulfil their role as a social conscience and political watchdog. Large profitable newspaper publishers in the country's capital continue to uncover corruption scandals, criticize political decisions or report on social wrongdoings. However, media ownership is highly concentrated: five large media organizations own almost the entire broadcasting sector, including the private companies “Nation Media Group”, “Standard Media Group” and “Royal Media Services
To help counter hate speech and misinformation, DW Akademie works with local experts and partner organizations to support radio stations in rural areas. The goal is for these stations to report independently, fairly and accurately. Experts from a so-called iLAB monitor Kenyan reporting and uncover disinformation and misinformation.
A network of investigative verification teams in media houses helps determine whether something is true or fake, whether a source is reliable or not, and to recognize biased information. The teams each focus on rumors and fake news having the greatest impact and relevance on a specific issue such as COVID-19 and health, public spending and corruption, extremism and hate speech.
DW Akademie also supports an alumni network; members regularly meet for conferences and discussions on current topics pertaining to the media industry and freedom of expression.
To help media outlets create a sounder financial base, DW Akademie is working with Kenyan experts to establish a pool of media consultants to help local radio stations develop viable business models as well as quality journalism skills for radio and online. In addition, they are forming a broadcasters association so stations can jointly represent their interests and rights and have a stronger bargaining power when dealing with political decision makers and advertisers.
Funding: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Program Director: Jutta vom Hofe
Local partners: Code of Africa, Grand Wave Consortiuim, Kenya Correspondents Association, Aga Khan University, DW Akademie Alumni Chapter Kenya, Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE), Afrika Check, Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Transparency International
Focus: Journalism training, management consultancy, economic sustainability, verification, investigative journalism, online journalism