Media inaccuracy in reporting on road accidents

The scene of a crash involving several vehicles at Sachang’wan on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway on December 12, 2017.

Sachangwan road crash photo credit Daily Nation’s Ayub Muiyuro

The rate of road accidents in Kenya has increased over the last few days. Kenyan media has done all that they can in order to provide information on the road accidents that have been happening in the country.

Take for example the Daily Nation headline story 39 Die in 24 hours on 13th December, 2017. The story sought to explain what had transpired in an accident at Sachangwan. The piece was emotional and at the same time went into detail on what really happened on the road if you actually read it. However the media has not been critical to question some of the things that go on.

For instance the media is quick to give figures of the number of people who have died on the road accidents that have been perceived as black spots but no one is willing to talk about the driver who was driving that lorry? For so long the National Transport and Safety Authority has been questioned over and over again as they have not seemed to question who or what was driving the car. The transport authority has been very lenient on making sure they have tracked every vehicle driver and even if they are the Justice system seems to be very slow in dispensing justice.

The media has been very quiet on questioning the solutions. For instance in a story ran by the Nation on December 13th by Magdalene Wanja, Peter Mburu and Linet Awali which portrayed the anguish of victims of the Sachangwan Area seemed to be a little off and the whole team would have been used to do another thing(no offence). For instance the team would have gone out to look out for information on the drivers and his background. The whole idea of journalism is to try and understand how the situation got to how it got there. For one the team would have decided to look into the past of the driver, the road and why it has caused many road accidents.

The role of the NTSA also needs to be rethought. Take for example they have been very silent on how to deal with blackspots in the country. The pathetic strategy to come up with short term solutions to road accidents is what the media has been terming as solutions. In a story ran by the Daily Nation on the 16th of December the newspaper pointed out that the NTSA had come into sweeping action. However there was little in questioning whether what the NTSA had done. For instance they reported the impounding of 30 drivers on the Nairbi Eldoret highway but little has been done to look into whether the drivers will be charged. Another area I found troubling in the piece is the lack of questioning as to why the government through the NTSA had decided to only put in speed bumps instead of pushing for construction of a dual carriage way. Little has been done to expose the fallacy into this ridiculous piece of policy introduced by government.

The media has played a role in breaking news quick but the Kenyan media needs to step up and make sure that they have started going in depth into the story and not just reporting the big news and moving on to the next big news it is time for a shift into detailed journalism.


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