Media can and does shape opinions and its role in post Covid recovery cannot be underestimated. With the toll that the pandemic has taken on the world, mainstream media and bloggers have their work cut out in highlighting the problems as well as the successes. These successes are particularly crucial because people have suffered massively even in areas of mental health and something positive to look upto is always welcome.
The speed and intensity with which Covid-19 came into our lives almost took everybody by surprise. Doctors, Governments, citizens and even the media. Nobody seemed quite sure how to deal with the novel virus and both mainstream and social media found themselves flying without wings searching for information to pass on to an eagerly waiting public. The pandemic has shaken every facet of humanity and changed life forever as we knew it.
Every individual and every sector had serious challenges to deal with on their own level and for the media especially.
Covid-19 came with a lot of fake news that not only spread fear among people, but also made it difficult for reporting of facts by the media. The pandemic scenario was just about perfect for fake news to spread. What with people caged in their homes, scared for their lives and the lives of their loved ones, watching stories of death and disease for days on end. And with reduced work capacity due to total lockdowns and working from home, people had a lot of time to be on their gadgets catching up with all sorts of misinformation. By the time the media comes with real well researched news, people already have their minds skewed towards fake news which is always more sensationalized and therefore sometimes more believable to many.
While for the most part people stayed home and worked from there, this was because some jobs are doable remotely. But not all. For journalists to capture and report on good stories, they do not have the luxury of staying home. They often have to be in the thick of things gathering information and filming so that they can bring authentic stories to their audiences. So when they cannot get out and do this, or even when they’re out, they’re perpetually in fear of their own personal safety against Covid-19, then their quality of work is severely compromised.
Who can forget how Donald Trump would just wake up and post unsubstantiated falsehoods about Covid-19? Advising people to drink disinfectants and other household products to beat the virus? Or speaking about what combinations of medicines people should take? These are words that should only come from a doctor. With this kind of talk from someone so senior, some people are bound to believe. Not because they’re thinking of in terms of truth or misinformation, but because of their political inclinations.
There are many more challenges that the media has had to deal with in the face of Covid-19 but all in all, they must be commended for upholding their role in the very dire circumstances. Their role being to educate, entertain, and inform.
In Kenya for example, most of us looked forward to the daily updates on how the disease was behaving and as much as we were all scared and still are, the updates kept hopes alive especially whenever lower numbers were reported. Kudos to the Fifth Estate for not caving in as the pandemic wrecked havoc not only in the media industry, but in every industry you can think of.