An analysis of Kenya’s mainstream print media’s usage of objectification and anchoring to represent the Kenyan international criminal court cases in the daily nation and the standard news articles
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The media play a central role in disseminating information with the aim of creating awareness of topical issues, including legal issues. Various studies have also established that news from the media is the popular source of information on current events. Similarly, public knowledge, beliefs and attitudes towards legal systems are largely shaped by the media information they receive, thus, the need for examining the content and nature of information being disseminated by the media. Correspondingly, the Social Representation Theory offers a framework for studying how the media communicates about issues through the mechanisms of objectification and anchoring, with the aim of creating awareness and promoting understanding. Embedded within these mechanisms are elements of metaphors, antinomies, naming, personification, thematic anchoring, emotional anchoring and objectification, which facilitate knowledge through their various interpretations. It is against this backdrop that this study examines how two Kenyan newspapers used objectification and anchoring to represent the ICC process involving six Kenyans accused of being key perpetrators of the 2007/08 Post-Election Violence. The objectives of this study therefore were; to identify and describe elements of objectification and anchoring used in the coverage of the Kenyan ICC process in selected weekday issues of the Daily Nation and The Standard newspapers, to examine how the newspapers exploited the various interpretations of the identified elements of objectification and anchoring in their coverage of the Kenyan ICC process and to establish the implications of objectification and anchoring mechanisms on the media messages in order to decipher the overall representation of the ICC process by the two newspapers. This study was guided by Serge Moscovici’s Social Representation Theory (SRT) that allows for an in-depth analysis of how the media creates meaning through the mechanisms of objectification and anchoring. An analytical research design was employed in analysing and evaluating the media messages. A three-step purposive sampling method was used in selecting first, the two newspapers because they are market leaders, then the period of analysis to cover the confirmation of charges hearing proceedings at the ICC, providing a population of 86 newspaper issues produced between the months of September and October 2011. Finally, relevant content was sampled to produce a sample size of 38 news articles. A coding sheet was used in collecting the data which was then analysed quantitatively to record the frequency of occurrence of the identified elements of representations and qualitatively to study their inherent meanings. The identified elements of objectification and anchoring were found to be fused with ideological undertones that served in representing the ICC process as a struggle or war between the prosecution and the defence teams. It is therefore hoped that the media fraternity can utilize these findings to develop media moderation when reporting on potentially polarising issues like court processes.