The media has been urged to intensify the campaign on Covid 19 that call on the members of the public to be vaccinated.
This could be achieved by going beyond reporting daily Covid infection statistics but highlighting stories that seek to dispel misinformation surrounding the pandemic.
During a virtual workshop for local journalists organized by the Kenya correspondent Association (KCA) and other stakeholders, the communicators were further urged to continue highlighting encouraging stories on how the communities were taking precautionary measures against the viral diseases and their response to the ongoing vaccination.
KCA‘s Chair William Janak said the new normal has greatly distracted journalists’ work who on a daily basis engage the public for information.
“Through restraint measures and other legal frameworks put in place, journalists are among the groups of professionals who have really suffered.
There has been a lot of constraints of freedom on convergence of meetings and suppression of media freedom both locally and regionally that has made journalism even harder.”
Besides the structured legal policies, he noted Covid outbreak has had a negative impact in the media sector such as massive job losses, financial struggles, and Covid cases among some professionals.
Pamela Mburia, a communication expert called on the local media to take up its communication role seriously and sensitize the locals on the importance of adherence to the health protocols and uptake of the Covid vaccine.
She noted that so many Kenyans have fallen victim to misconceptions associated with the vaccines whereas it was the only solution to reduce the rate of infection and increase the health safety of Kenyans.
“Use various platforms in your disposals to highlight stories that seek to demystify the mystery surrounding the disease and the uptake of the vaccination, “she said
She said journalists should come up with encouraging feature stories about some of the activities being done by the communities to reduce the infection rate.
“Having worked with various communities, I can attest that there are a lot of conversations being circulated on the safety of the jab. Some say it has a negative impact on the reproductive systems and other parts of the body, which is all false.
There could be no better time than this when the media needs to play its role in educating the public so as to help dispel the fear and get inoculated,” Mburia said
This she said could be done by involving medical professionals and government officials as they are in a better position to give in-depth information on the subject.
“With the liberalization of the airwaves in the Kenya media space, we now have vernacular radio stations which have a bigger impact and thus should be aggressively used to drive the message home.”
“Encourage Kenyans to go get vaccinated while strictly observing the health protocols because when people know why they need to adhere to the Covid protocols and observe them,” Mburia said
What distinguishes media from other platforms is that it disseminates credible and well-searched information, “she said.
Sarah Wesonge from article 19 said her organization has and is still engaging the media and other stakeholders on how to respond to media freedom issues.
She also said that article 19 has been a part of the many organizations helping the media keep afloat through financial assistance to journalists by way of issuance of grants and stipends for their upkeep.
By Irungu Mwangi