Addis Ababa: Media need to cover the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 to the length of focusing on containing the spread of the pandemic, Journalism and Communication expert said.
As multitudes staying home amidst the coronavirus pandemic to help stem the spread of the virus, people have limited alternatives except to rely on media and media technologies to keep updated and keep on connected.
Ethiopian News Agency talks to media expert on how the media stand out as being more constructive in the context of COVID-19 outbreak, when it is critical to reach the whole people with trustworthy information about the pandemic.
Mulatu Alemayehu, Journalism and Communication Associate Professor at Adiss Ababa University, said almost all media outlets are covering on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic and the measures being undertaking by the government.
He noted that there is a wide coverage when it comes to media reporting on COVID-19, adding “We couldn’t undermine the efforts undertaken so far”.
All the media have the responsibility to guide the society during such calamities including briefing the daily cases within the country and the global trends among others, he stated.
The expert stressed that in addition to informing and briefing the daily cases, it needs to work so as to bring behavioral change among the society including tipping and setting directions.
“From my observation so far, the media are working on informing but matters of guiding the society especially regarding to social distancing, usage of mask and other issues remain to be worked,” he noted.
Mulatu, who teaches journalism courses to undergraduate and graduate level students, said “there are confusions on physical distancing and wearing masks”.
“Some say using mask is critical while others say using mask depends on the place and situations. So, the media need to discuss with relevant experts and have to come up with clear messages,” he underscored.
According to the media expert, COVID-19 is a health issue. But the impact of the issue enters into investment, education, economy among others. So, no sector is immune from the impact of the pandemic.
Mulatu noted that the precedence of the COVID-19 pandemic will stay front and centre for months to come in the media, as epidemic is disrupting every industry.
However, he insisted for rational priority of the mega projects, education sector, among others in the media coverage, adding that “If we ignore such sectors the socio-economical crisis will be so destructive.”
Communication Director at Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority, Gebregiorgis Abreha said for his part that most of the media have been playing significant role in the COVID-19 response, even as it poses challenges to the industry
The mainstream media in particular showed a collaborative approach to make the issue a prior public agenda, he stated.
The Director added that the mainstream media have been well disseminated information and directions from the health professionals, religious leaders, and government officials to the general public.
Ethiopian artists have also found creative ways to offer hope amid the COVID-19 crisis involving dignitaries, students, children among others to create awareness for the public.
Despite all the stated efforts, he said, the impact assessment is yet to be done among media outlets. Assessments on social, political and other issues should be conducted.
“China and South Korea should be taken as our best examples on how to convince, inform and collaborate with their own people to fight against COVID-19. So, our media have to focus on impacts and the behavioral change bringing to society at large,” Gebregiorgis said.
Ethiopia confirmed its first coronavirus case on March 13. The total COVID-19 case reached to 263 so far.
Source: Ethiopia News agency