Kenya’s media is frequently cited as one of the most vibrant and commercially successful of sub-Saharan Africa. State control of the media first began to loosen in the 1990s; most dramatically, the new constitution adopted in 2010 explicitly enshrined freedom of the press, spurring optimism that strong, independent news sources would be able to more effectively serve Kenyans and hold the powerful to account. Yet the media ecosystem today is struggling under economic and political pressures that undermine its independence. These include the need for sustainable business models, as the private sectors moves its advertising online, as well as the threat of government attempts to stifle public criticism and media scrutiny.
Given these challenges, Omidyar Network, which has long supported innovators in independent media throughout the world, wanted to understand how it could better support and help advance public interest journalism. Building on our previous partnerships, Omidyar engaged Reboot to conduct an analysis of the Kenyan media today. Our goals were to clearly identify the challenges and opportunities facing journalists and media actors, to recommend interventions specifically for Omidyar, and to encourage the broader media development community to engage in conversation and investment in strengthening Kenya’s independent press.