Monday, September 23, 2013

Sadness about Kenya; Scrutinizing coverage of the attack
It doesn’t get much sadder than what happened in Kenya over the weekend. Certainly, our thoughts and best wishes go out to the victims, their families, and indeed all Kenyans.

I’ve had the honor of teaching in Kenya on two occasions, and have found Kenyans (like their brothers throughout East Africa) to be among the warmest, most wonderful people I’ve encountered anywhere. In fact, my Ugandan colleague Gloria Laker and I have a grant proposal currently being considered that would return us to Kenya next summer to teach Peace and Reconciliation Journalism workshops. As heartbreaking as these events are, they haven’t changed our minds. If the grant is approved, we’ll return to Kenya.

As for the coverage of the mall attack, my peace journalism students and I here at Park University are closely scrutinizing how the media are treating the incident. Right now, we have more questions than answers. Among these:

 1. Does coverage inadvertently play into the hands of the attackers? Does it somehow glamorize or legitimize what they have done?
       2. Does sensational coverage make a bad situation worse? (See images from the Sunday front pages of Kenya’s two leading newspapers, The Nation and The Standard).
       3. Are bloody images necessary to tell this story, or are they merely voyeuristic and sensational? Do such images respect the privacy of victims and their loved ones?
       4. Has the coverage in any way hindered officials who are seeking to end the stand-off, and to investigate the attack?

We’ll continue to monitor the situation over the coming days as we hope for the healing to begin.

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