Journal of
Media and Communication Studies

  • Abbreviation: J. Media Commun. Stud.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2545
  • DOI: 10.5897/JMCS
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 222

Full Length Research Paper

Agenda setting via gate-keeping theory in the press coverage of presidential candidates in Kenya

Mwangi Michael Kamau
  • Mwangi Michael Kamau
  • School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 27 May 2016
  •  Accepted: 24 August 2016
  •  Published: 31 December 2016


The paper uses gate-keeping theory to explain how the press sets agendas. It analyzes how the press covered the presidential candidates in the Kenya’s 2013 General Election. Three newspapers are analyzed: the Nation, the Standard and the Star Newspaper. All have a country wide presence and are considered mainstream newspapers. The major aim is to cement understanding about how the press performs its duties of disseminating information. It proceeds to argue that, through gate keeping, informational ‘zoning’ occurs. This zoning determines the footprint implanted in the ‘cognitive maps’ of readers. Consequently, gate-keeping theory is projected as a powerful tool at the disposal of media practitioners. The media terrain is explored through content analysis of the coverage of the presidential candidates by three newspapers. The paper identifies major lessons which act as lenses to the future operation of press and casts an important light upon which the role of media in a democracy is to be understood.

Key words: Gate-keeping, agenda setting, theory, democracy