The Nairobian and the ‘Politics’ of Tabloidisation in Kenya’s Print Media
The unprecedented growth of The Nairobian, a red-top tabloid, as arguably the most notorious and undoubtedly one of the most ‘popular’ newspapers in Kenya has generated debate on the future of Kenyan journalism. Informed by the broader critical debates on the process of tabloidisation and of the tabloid press more generally, this chapter discusses the ‘success’ of The Nairobian and, in the process, articulates the multiple—if contradictory—facets and textures of popular journalism. It explores the interface between the ‘popular’ and the ‘populist’ in Kenyan journalism in order to consider how and why the tabloid press so readily constructs its publics. It examines The Nairobian’s focus on Kenya’s ‘popular anxieties’, hence its appeal. It argues that though fundamentally melodramatic, the newspaper disrupts and questions the normative by elevating the personal and by employing controversial though not entirely subversive rhetorical strategies to mediate both the individual and collective experiences of its readers. It further argues that the newspaper is ‘political’ in the sense of undermining the formally political through a ‘politics of the everyday’.
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