Ethnic Polarization in Kenya: Media Framing in Political Interviews


Omoke, Lillian Kemunto1

Mberia, Hellen2

Jjuuko, Margaret3


1 University of Embu, P. O. Box 6 – 60100, Embu, Kenya

2 Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya, P. O. Box 62 000 – 00200, Nairobi, Kenya

3 University of Rwanda, Gikondo Campus, P. O. Box 1514, Kigali City, Rwanda


Ethnic polarization is a common and growing issue in Kenya due to heightened political contentions surrounding general elections held every five years. A popular media genre employed in political communication is the ‘political interview’ that involves the journalist (as the interviewer) and the politician (as the interviewee). Often, several politicians representing opposing factions are engaged. The political news interview is a specialized genre that is used to disseminate political information. This article investigates the frames used by the media in ethnic polarization in Kenya. Some of the most common polarizing agents are hate speech and name calling. News framing analysis is used to find out these frames. Among the key findings is that the media practitioners are guided by the competitive nature of the industry. For them to be profitable they have to pull a huge audience to their programmes because for them the audience is a product for sale to the advertiser. This leads them to select contentious topics as well as controversial figures who will defend, with firm stances, the parties they represent. The interviews are also broadcast over a long time as compared to normal news programming. The result of this kind of framing is a polarized audience.


ethnic polarization; Kenya; political news interview; framing

Publication Date

June 7, 2020


Volume 7, Issue 1

Citation information

Omoke, Lillian Kemunto, Hellen Mberia, and Margaret Jjuuko. 2020. “Ethnic Polarization in Kenya: Media Framing in Political Interviews.” Language. Text. Society 7 (1).


author = {Omoke, Lillian Kemunto and Mberia, Hellen and Jjuuko, Margaret},
title = {Ethnic Polarization in Kenya: Media Framing in Political Interviews},
journal = {Language. Text. Society},
year = {2020},
issn = {2687-0487},
number = {1},
volume = {7},
url = {},


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