Kioko Ireri

The Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication Dr. Kioko Ireri has published a book chapter detailing how three Kenyan national newspapers framed the Westgate Mall and Garissa University College terror attacks.

The chapter titled, “Media Framing of Westgate Mall and Garissa University College Terror Attacks in Kenya: News Frames, Responsibility and Major Actors”, explored the media frames that were employed by journalists in reporting the two terror attacks. The eight frames explored included attribution of responsibility, conflict, economic consequences, human interest, international co-operation, justice, morality and quest for security.

The research examined any significant variations in the use of the most common media frame between Westgate and Garissa terror incidences. In addition, the study sought to find out whether the coverage of the two terror attacks was episodic or thematic in nature. It examined any significant variations in the use of the most-prevalent framing type (episodic versus thematic) between the two incidences of terrorist attacks.Through the lenses of attribution frame, the study examined who the media assigned the blame for the two terror attacks. Lastly, the research investigated the major news sources (actors) in reporting of the two attacks by journalists from the three newspapers.

The findings indicate that the human interest frame was the most common frame at 55% in the coverage of the two terror cases, followed by attribution of responsibility (15%) and the quest for security (9.4%).

Human interest coverage gives a human face (empathy or sympathy) to an issues being covered by the media. Because human interest was the most prevalent frame, its use between the two terror cases was statistically significant where it occurred more in the coverage of the Garissa University College attack.

The coverage of the two terror attacks was overwhelming episodic (70.9%). Episodic coverage involves storytelling in which an issue is presented in a specific event or case – for example – a victim of terror attack narrating his experience. The use of episodic framing (the most common) was statistically significant between the two terror incidences, receiving more coverage.

The chapter appears in the just-released book titled, The Changing Dynamics of Terrorism & Violent Extremism: Policy and Practice (Volume II), launched on November 23 at the Nairobi Serena Hotel. It examines a wide spectrum of issues in the war against terrorism and violent extremism in Africa, oscillating between theory and practice.

Some of the broad themes discussed include global trends in terrorism and violent extremism; radicalization into violent extremism; effectiveness of counter-terrorism strategies; media, youth, gender, and terrorism; terrorism and human rights; and ideological dimensions, among others. The book’s ten chapters provides a comprehensive information reservoir for practitioners, scholars, students, and others working in the realm of terrorism and violent extremism. The 307 page book is edited by Dr. Mustafa Yusuf Ali, Dr. Mumo Nzau, and Dr. Hassan Khannenje. Dr. Ali is a scholar in International Relations and practitioner in Conflict Transformation. Dr. Nzau is a governance and national security strategist, while Dr. Khannenje is a scholar in Peace and Conflict, International Relations, and Foreign Affairs.

An earlier version of the chapter was presented at the International Conference on Terrorism and Violent Extremism held in April 2018 at the Windsor Golf Hotel and Country Club in Nairobi that was organized and sponsored by HORN International Institute for Strategic Studies -  an applied research and policy think tank based in Nairobi.