As the post-election crisis in Kenya continues, attention has also been directed at the way international media have been covering the events. A number of commentators have criticized the ‘tribalism’ cliches that have been bandied about (a summary of some of the viewpoints can be found here). On the listserv H-Net Africa there has been an ongoing debate about the coverage of the conflict by the New York Times and other international journalism outlets, while the BBC has done some good introspection. While these debates rightly criticize the international media for often lazy or sloppy journalism, new media technologies like cellphones and the internet have facilitated a contraflow from Kenyan observers themselves. With a ban on live news reports in place, new media technologies seemed to have helped Kenyans circumvent official (silenced) channels. Cell phones were used to keep Kenyans in the diaspora in touch with stranded relatives, news updates were sent via SMS, while on the Internet several excellent blogs on sites like Global Voices and Pambazuka News (now also on Facebook ) have been tracking developments. Of course newspapers like the Daily Nation are also available online.
So there are alternatives to the ‘tribalism’ cliches available, and they are not that hard to find.