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Newspaper Visibility of Members of Parliament in Kenya
Unformatted Document Text:  NEWSPAPER VISIBILITY OF MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT IN KENYA 5 cannot ignore the importance of their publicity, as doing so is tantamount to writing their political epitaphs. Gans (1979) writes that the relationship between sources and journalists “resembles a dance, for sources seek access to journalists, and journalists seek access to sources” (p. 116). In acknowledging the importance of each other in news production process, the two groups (politicians and journalists) engage in what Cook (1998) terms as “negotiation of newsworthiness” (p. 90). Stromback and Nord (2006) describe the relationship as “symbiotic” (p. 147), adding that “on the dance floor, the political actors are doing what they can to invite the journalists to dance, but ultimately, it is the journalists who choose who they are going to dance with” (p. 161). One reason why elected officials – senators, congressmen, or parliamentarians seek media attention is grounded in their political survival. This reason often depicts politicians as selfish people, only concerned about their political survival at the expense of serving their constituents. Getting media attention ensures them visibility, because in most instances the public gauges the performance of their representatives depending on the amount of publicity they are accorded by newspeople. Americans, for example, use the news media to evaluate their elected leaders in the Congress, the Senate or House of Representative. Congress is, for instance, “held in low regard by the public,” according to Hibbing and Theiss-Morse (1998, p. 494). In their analysis of public confidence in the Congress, Patterson and Caldeira (1990) write: Media coverage of Congress, the Senate or House of Representatives, committees, or other institutional components, as well as coverage of members’ ethics, both of which accentuate the negative, have a powerful depressing effect on evaluations of Congress; the regression coefficients for both variables are negative and very significant statistically (p. 39). Elected officials therefore use the media publicity as a platform from where to connect with their constituents. Also, how they are covered affords the public to know where they stand on an issue of national importance. Tresch (2009) argues that by bringing media attention to their cause, political actors “can swing momentum to their side and exert pressure in the policy-making process” (p. 68). This, according to Tresch, is a political strategy for politicians to “gain legitimacy and power in the political process” (p. 68). In attempting to enhance media

Authors: Ireri, Kioko.
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NEWSPAPER VISIBILITY OF MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT IN KENYA 5
cannot ignore the importance of their publicity, as doing so is tantamount to writing their 
political epitaphs. Gans (1979) writes that the relationship between sources and journalists 
“resembles a dance, for sources seek access to journalists, and journalists seek access to 
sources” (p. 116). In acknowledging the importance of each other in news production process, 
the two groups (politicians and journalists) engage in what Cook (1998) terms as “negotiation 
of   newsworthiness”   (p.   90).   Stromback   and   Nord   (2006)   describe   the   relationship   as 
“symbiotic” (p. 147), adding that “on the dance floor, the political actors are doing what they 
can to invite the journalists to dance, but ultimately, it is the journalists who choose who they 
are going to dance with” (p. 161).
One reason why elected officials – senators, congressmen, or parliamentarians seek 
media attention is grounded in their political survival. This reason often depicts politicians as 
selfish people, only concerned about their political survival at the expense of serving their 
constituents. Getting media attention ensures them visibility, because in most instances the 
public gauges the performance of their representatives depending on the amount of publicity 
they are accorded by newspeople. Americans, for example, use the news media to evaluate 
their elected leaders in the Congress, the Senate or House of Representative. Congress is, for 
instance, “held in low regard by the public,” according to Hibbing and Theiss-Morse (1998, p. 
494). In their analysis of public confidence in the Congress, Patterson and Caldeira (1990) 
write:
Media coverage of Congress, the Senate or House of Representatives, committees, or 
other institutional components, as well as coverage of members’ ethics, both of which 
accentuate the negative, have a powerful depressing effect on evaluations of Congress; 
the   regression   coefficients   for   both   variables   are   negative   and   very   significant 
statistically (p. 39). 
Elected officials therefore use the media publicity as a platform from where to connect 
with their constituents. Also, how they are covered affords the public to know where they stand 
on an issue of national importance. Tresch (2009) argues that by bringing media attention to 
their cause, political actors “can swing momentum to their side and exert pressure in the 
policy-making process” (p. 68). This, according to Tresch, is a political strategy for politicians 
to “gain legitimacy and power in the political process” (p. 68). In attempting to enhance media 


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