Journalists urged to report factually on Covid-19

Journalists have been urged to practice factual reporting and be sensitive to Covid-19 victims as they cover issues around the pandemic.

These remarks were made by media researcher Dr Delta Ndou on Friday during a female journalists round-table hosted by the Center for Innovation and Technology (CITE), Cultural Information Trust (CIT) and Amakhosikazi Media to discuss challenges faced by female journalists in covering the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Dr Ndou said journalists must be wary of the choice of words use as they write their articles, explaining that some type of reporting perpetuates stigmatisation of victims. 

With special reference to Bulawayo’s Covid-19 case number 21 coverage, Dr Ndou highlighted that the manner in which the issue was covered created intense harm to the affected family. 

According to media reports, one of the family members, who is a health worker, contracted the virus while attending a positive patient and as a result the other members were infected too. 

“When writing stories, it is important to gather all the required facts from all the concerned parties. The manner in which the issue of case 21 was reported on caused a lot of alarm amongst people. The amount of damage that has been caused is now too huge and to retain the situation will take a lot of work,” she said. 

“There is need to be sensitive about the effect of the choice of words used in story writing. The media audience is bound to believe what is published first before any other issues hence it is important to be balanced and factual everytime.” 

Dr Ndou noted that beyond giving people statistics of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, it is important for journalists to remember that there are humans behind the figures and their lives remain impacted in different ways. 

“It is important for journalists to reflect on the impact of their stories hence they have to be ethical when handling stories of Covid-19 victims,” she said. 

Case number 21, who also attended the round-table, said their lives have not been the same since then. 

“We were badly affected by the reportage. What hurts us the most is the fact that we were never given an opportunity to say our side of the story. Right now people still look at us as careless residents who went around infecting other people,” she said. 

“Right now our careers are hanging in the balance, we are not certain what the future holds. Our neighbours hardly interact with us anymore all because of the damage that emanated from the media.”

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