Four faculty members and a graduate student in the School of Communication, Cinematics and Creative Arts have presented research papers at the world’s biggest conference in the field of communication - International Communication Association (ICA) Conference - held in Prague, Czech Republic from May 24 to May 28, 2018.

Dr. Joseph Nyanoti (Assistant Professor of Journalism) presented a paper in Popular Communication division titled “Ideology and Representation of Women Political Aspirants in the 2017 General Election Primaries Campaign Posters in Nairobi County: A Cultural Studies Approach”.

He examined the role of patriarchal ideology in subjugating women in their quest for political leadership. Findings show that although female contesters in Nairobi designed posters that were aimed at marketing them to their prospective voters as the best candidates to take various elective positions (Women Representatives, Senator and Members of County Assembly), the messages they projected only helped promote male superiority. Instead of selling their political ideologies and leadership qualities, the women candidates identified themselves as mothers – for example – “Miss Maendeleo” (Miss Development).

Presenting in the Health Communication division, Assistant Professor of Journalism Dr. Stephen Kimotho explored the nature of stigma communication associated with mental illness, beliefs and stereotypes underpinning mental illness stigma. His paper was titled “Silenced Voices: Understanding Stigmatizing Beliefs, Stereotypes and Stigma Communication Associated with Mental Illness in Africa”.

His findings indicate the nature of mental illness stigma communication is an intersection of stigma messages, cultural beliefs, and stereotypes associated with mental illness. Cultural beliefs associated with mental illness are inextricably intertwined with the perceived cause of mental illness (which include curses, witchcraft, cultural misdemeanour, and possession by spirits or demons).

In the Mass Communication division, Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication Dr. Kioko Ireri’s presentation focused on how Al-Jazeera and BBC news sites visually framed the 2011 Libyan Revolution. His paper was titled “Images from Battlefields: How Al-Jazeera and BBC News Sites Visually Framed Libyan Revolution”.

Using 250 news images embedded in the news links of the two sites, the study investigated the prevalence of six visual frames: people, weaponry type, weaponry ownership, destruction, casualties, and other. The findings indicate that the people visual frame was the most-prevalent, and was dominated by images of the rebel fighters. While guns dominated the weaponry type frame, casualty and destruction images were rare.

Four aspects of the visual frame coverage of the conflict came out strongly: the reportage of the Libyan conflict encapsulates support for the UN military intervention, Al-Jazeera offered more visual coverage than BBC, and the conflict was presented as a “Libyan affair” and “bloodless”.

Graduate student Jimmy Ochieng (MA in Communication Studies) presented a joint paper with Dr. Ireri in the Political Communication division. The paper was titled “Politicians in Newspaper News: Who Attracts Coverage in Kenyan Politics”. The research examined characteristics of the most visible Kenyan politicians in a four-year newspaper coverage period (2013-2017). It also investigated the variables that predicted the coverage of 349 MPs.

In the same vein, the predictors of politicians’ mention in news was further analyzed by gender. The study also examined whether senior MPs and those holding leadership positions received more coverage than others. Findings show that the most-covered MPs are male, belong to the five Kenyan dominant ethnic groups, affiliated with Kenya’s four major political parties, first time legislators, and hold no committee or party leadership position.

On predictors of news visibility, negative coverage was found to be the strongest determinant of their coverage. By gender, the strongest predictor for male politicians was negative coverage, while commenting on corruption topic determined female MPs mentions in news. Senior MPs and those holding leadership positions enjoyed more coverage than other colleagues. The data-collection for the research was funded through USIU-Africa internal research grants for 2015-2016 academic year.

Assistant Professor of Journalism Dr. Dorothy Njoroge’s paper was titled “Media Representation of Celebrity Activists and Other Key Actors in the Make Poverty History Campaign”. Using the critical discourse approach, the research examined how the Western press represented the major actors during the campaign organized for Africa in 2005 by music stars Bono and Geldof. The paper was presented in the Activism, Communication & Social Justice division.