The media in any democratic society is charged with the mandate of creating and shaping of public opinion, strengthening as well as acting as a watchdog of society. It also creates public awareness in a bid to protect public interest and ensure that malpractices in the society are exposed. As the fourth estate, next to the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, it holds the power to transparently and objectively report and cover any events within society. In an election for example, the media participates in the election process by covering and ensuring that free and fair elections are conducted. Reporting any election malpractices becomes a key role of a democratic media during an election. The election process also includes the aftermath of any election and in the case of our study, the petitions that arise during a disputed election. In 2013, the election was disputed and it ended up in a court process that saw the current President, Uhuru Kenyatta declared the winner. The media’s responsibility was to inform citizens and ensure adequate coverage of the petition process as well as the ruling. The recently concluded 2017 general election was also disputed and the media was expected to cover it sufficiently amidst criticism of its inability to report freely and objectively. This study focused on how the two mainstream print media papers (Nation and Standard) covered the 2013 and 2017 elections. A content analysis of a total of 28 days was carried out in a bid to find out how the media covered both elections. A comparative analysis of the coverage of the two rulings informed of the strides that the media has taken in terms of media freedom and coverage. It also informed of the media affectivity and adequacy in covering elections through print media.
Key Words: Democratic society, Fourth Estate, Media coverage, Media role