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Gender and elections: Female journalists’ Twitter use
Aarhus University.
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Geography, Media and Communication. (NODE)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4774-4643
2017 (English)Conference proceedings (editor) (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Existing studies show that Twitter has become an appropriate tool for journalists to share

breaking news, network, connect with sources or to brand themselves and their news

organizations. However in using Twitter journalists have to contend with their conflicting

professional and private identities (Holton & Molyneux, 2015). In this paper, we return to this

debate by interrogating the question whether journalists assert themselves in terms of their

gender identities especially when the national discourse on gender equity is pervasive. We

examine Twitter use by journalists during the 2017 elections in Kenya with a special focus on

female journalists who constitute one-third of the number of journalists in the country (Ireri,

2015).

Major constitutional change in 2010 set a one-third gender threshold for representation in

government and politics in Kenya. Consequently, media discourse surrounding gender has

focused on representation of women in politics and the institutionalization of gender parity in the

Kenyan society. With a slow reform pace and male-dominated politics, civic organizations, media

professionals and social movements have intensified gender campaigns, particularly during

election periods. In the run-up to the 2017 general election, for example, there have emerged

movements that seek visibility offline and online in a bid to change attitudes of Kenyans “rooted

in a patriarchal cultural system” (Kareithi, 2013, p. 266). One example is the 2017 Twitter

campaign against political TV talk shows dominated by male panellist (or ‘manels’).

The pervasive gender discourse during elections puts female journalists at the centre of

constant conflicting demands to promote their professional roles as well as project their voice in

a national discourse on gender. In fact, their journalistic work exposes them more to pressure

from civic organizations, political parties and gender activists as well as growing Twitter

communities [recent studies show Kenyan Twittersphere is one of the most vibrant in Africa

(Portland-Communications, 2015)].

We will track and analyse tweets from a sample of 20 male and female journalists on

Twitter from four media outlets in Kenya over a period of two months preceding the Kenyan

general election in 2017. By analysing Twitter profiles, sourcing, retweets, news stories shared and

whether their tweets carry opinion, we aim to deepen the understanding of how Kenyan

journalists utilise Twitter in election times and whether there are distinct female and male

practices. We expect to find disparities between the content male and female journalists post,

and that female journalists are more assertive about national gender discourses. The expected

contribution of this paper is in discussing journalists Twitter use during elections and the

implications of a gender discourse that puts to test the professional and personal identities of

journalists.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Tampere: NordMedia , 2017.
Keyword [en]
Elections, Gender, Journalists, Twitter, Kenya, Personal branding, Professional identities
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-63750OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-63750DiVA: diva2:1141893
Conference
Nordic Conference on Media and Communication Research (NordMedia), August 17-19, 2017, University of Tampere, Finland
Available from: 2017-09-17 Created: 2017-09-17 Last updated: 2017-09-18

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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