By David Mwenda
The health crisis continues to bite and Kenya is witnessing what would be the worst public workers’ strike since 2013.
For the media, the health workers’ standoff with the government is the biggest story this week and, for sure, they are working hard to ensure you have the story at your home.
But how are they covering the story? I sat down and I compared two media houses Citizen TV and NTV’s prime time bulletins of December 6, 2016.
Citizen did a story on the doctors’ demands and the stalemate caused by the striking doctors. They managed to get as many correspondents and sampled very well views from across the nation.
One of the touching stories was of the man who can’t walk and has stayed outside a Kakamega hospital, abandoned by health practitioners and passersby.
However, I feel that Citizen’s reporting didn’t take the side of the doctors. Thus, I think their reporting was biased.
On the other hand, NTV did a splendid job. They highlighted on the patients being turned away by the doctors in different hospitals and showed the situation in different parts of the country. They also did a story on the medics’ demands.
NTV did not let it rest there; they highlighted the doctors’ plight. The story of Rowena Njeri was a touching one and it showed that doctors were not just going on strike for no apparent reason but they do have proper demands and they deserved the pay hike.
They did not leave it at that. They also highlighted another problem in the health sector, which is children who are lacking incubators and are suffering.
The deal breaker was Citizen TV’s interview done by Hussein Mohammed with Dr Ouma Oluga who is a representative of the doctors.
Hussein is a good interviewer. He does his job well and executes any interview very well.
Hussein raised the widely-held perception that doctors are inconsiderate and that they do not care about the people who do not have the money for private hospitals.
However, you have to give it to Dr Oluga. He portrayed doctors as the ones who are being exploited by the government. “We are not on strike the government is the one on strike,” is one takeaway from his Dr Oluga’s remarks.
In the long run, he highlighted how the government played bully over the negotiating team they were to meet earlier that day. He didn’t stop at that; he went on to ask for broad daylight discussions in the full glare of the public.
In the long run, Hussein was left explaining how the government side was not present and how they needed the side of the government’s story. I do agree that we needed their side but for the first time Hussein was unable to pin down Dr Oluga with his hard-hitting technique.
I would like to say that the two stations did a good job but at some point there was a shortfall in both of their coverage. I think the media should focus on double-edge reporting where both sides are given equality.
It is very important for them to do so. Otherwise, some information may be left out to the people as the stations race for better ratings.
So, which bulletin was better? On this one I will have to say I have no clear winner. It’s a tie.