The national elections in 2013 all but scuttled the work of the Networked News Lab. Journalists in the network were either completely engrossed in the coverage or (for those who don’t cover politics) sidelined by the event.
As a result, the project was put on hold for much of February and March. As the Lab began to resume its activities, however, it became clear that the elections had been a important event not only for the public, but for the newsroom. There were deep divisions over the coverage.
The Networked News Lab conducted a series of activities to promote learning and reflection from the electoral coverage. Lab Coordinator Nicholas Benequista consulted with each of the Lab’s members to gather their views of the coverage. He then interviewed senior reporters and editors at The Nation Group, Standard Group, Radio Africa Group, Citizen Radio and Capital FM. The conversations were strictly confidential, but the members of the Networked News Lab were later consulted in the analysis of these interviews.
The analysis has been shared on two London School of Economics blogs (POLIS and the LSE in Africa blog) and presented to more than 20 senior editors at an event co-hosted with Media Focus on Africa. The analysis has also kindled actions on behalf of other members of the Networked News Lab, including a blog posting by Dickens Olewe on the political views of journalists, and a feature news piece [near completion] by Bertha Kang’ong’oi that sought to counter what we perceive to be the effects of politicization on the electorally important story of those internally displaced by the post-electoral violence in 2007 and 2008.
The experience also helped to reshape the strategy of the Networked News Lab as a place to connect research and action in Kenyan journalism.