Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance presidential candidate Raila Odinga has so far received more media coverage than his main challenger in the August 9 General Election, Deputy President William Ruto, a new report has shown.
The Media Council of Kenya’s media monitoring and research report on media performance on election campaign reporting, released yesterday, revealed that the former Prime Minister and his running mate, Martha Karua, received 61.2 per cent coverage, while DP Ruto and his deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, received 38.2 per cent after the electoral agency cleared four presidential candidates for the August polls and their running mates.
George Wajackoyah of the Roots Party and his running mate, Justina Wamae, came third with a paltry 0.54 per cent while Agano Party’s David Mwaure and his running mate, Ruth Mutua, just got 0.02 per cent coverage.
The report, which covered the period between April and early June, focused on all 17 presidential aspirants before IEBC narrowed down the list to four candidates.
It indicates that the four candidates who were cleared by IEBC for the presidential seat contest have continued to enjoy 96 percent mentions in the media in the past two months.
“The four candidates who secured clearance for the presidential August polls had an overall 96 per cent mentions in the media between April and June 6, 2022,” reads the MCK report.
Gauged on their own, Azimio deputy presidential candidate Ms Karua trounced her colleagues, with the news about her exciting many Kenyans and giving her 78.8 per cent of media coverage while United Democratic Alliance’s (UDA) Mr Gachagua only got 20.9 per cent, Ms Wamae received 0.22 percent and Ms Mutua trailed with no coverage. The trend is replicated in both print and broadcast media.
Mr Odinga was still the most covered candidate on radio stations.
In total out of the more than 20 radio stations sampled, the Azimio candidate had 8,992 stories aired while the UDA boss had 5,982 stories. The Azimio leader enjoyed 865,665 seconds in the sampled radio stations while Dr Ruto got 549,338 seconds in airtime.
MCK chief executive, David Omwoyo, however, defended Mr Odinga’s coverage, arguing that Kenyans like consuming Raila-Karua-related news hence their stories “sell more” than those of Ruto-Gachagua.
For a long time Raila has been the best seller of news in the country hence he is viewed as the best newsmaker, his reemergence in the media space has excited many newsrooms. Deputy President William Ruto is also enjoying fair coverage,” said Mr Omwoyo yesterday at a hotel in Eldoret.
Mr Omwoyo said since early June, both Mr Odinga and Dr Ruto have been given fair coverage in the media, with the majority of media houses observing codes of ethics while covering the ongoing campaigns.
In the month of June, there was an increased coverage of Kenya Kwanza, in some cases overtaking Azimio particularly on radio platforms.
Mr Omwoyo praised radio for remaining ahead in promoting diversity in campaign coverage.
“Radio remains the reigning king promoting diversity in coverage of election 2022 with 95.8 percent of coverage on presidential candidates in their news segment,” stated the report.
However, the report cited some vernacular radio stations for being biased in their coverage by only featuring candidates from specific political parties while neglecting other candidates.
MCK observed that reporting by both mainstream and community radio stations on both national and regional politics was skewed in favouring regional politics.
MCK appealed to media stations to ensure fair coverage for all candidates ahead of the August polls.
Despite accusations against the media by Kenya Kwanza presidential candidate William Ruto, Mr Omwoyo said the media has remained neutral and professional.
He said that the majority of media houses have adhered to code of ethics in their coverage compared to the other election years.
“Compared to previous years, the majority of media houses have embraced election coverage code of ethics this year. Most of them focus their coverage on issue based reports and not personal attacks by politicians,” said Mr Omwoyo
The report revealed that social media continues to manipulate information from mainstream media hence propagating hate speech and misinforming Kenyans.
However, Mr Omwoyo said despite misinformation from social media, Raila Odinga is still ahead of William Ruto in social media coverage just as it is in the mainstream media.