Journalists role in war on Covid-19 pandemic laudable

Friday, April 24th, 2020 00:00 |
Media personnel at work. Photo/Courtesy

Chinua Achebe in his novel, Things Fall Apart, tells the story of a town crier, who ventures out into the dark, cold and silent night to announce an emergency meeting in the market place to discuss the killing of an Umofian woman in a neighbouring village.

 Once the meeting is convened, nobody even remembers about him. His job is done and he matters no more; dead or alive.

Today, that town crier is the journalist; the informer, educator, entertainer, watchdog and sounding boards for public conscience.

As harbingers of good and bad news, journalists put their lives and reputation on the line. But it is the most thankless job around.

 In a world ravaged by Covid-19, the media are at the heart of the battle against the disease. The Kenyan media have done their  bit. 

They have stayed in the frontline to not only inform the public, but partnered with the government in spreading awareness and safety information, not just as a job but also as a patriotic duty.

Journalists have gone out of their way to follow stories in the riskiest of environments without fretting about their personal safety.

And like many other heroes — doctors, nurses, caregivers, security officers and those in the National Emergency Response Committee on Coronavirus—journalists have forsaken the comfort of their homes and families for the frontline.

Media companies are going through tough times, struggling like all businesses; but the difference is that individual journalists are personally exposed and stressed financially, emotionally and psychologically.

In their state, they have nowhere and nobody to turn to; not the employer, government and public— even family.

This is not plea for empathy because, as the Fourth estate, our life is in the trenches where we tough it out, endure all manner of adversities and remain standing whatever the circumstances.  

But even as we are supposed kufa kijeshi (die like soldiers), we too are human and have been hit by impact of the virus.

We have not been spared the harsh economic realities of the pandemic, including pay cuts and job losses. 

Hopefully, at the end of this coronavirus nightmare, there will be a heart out there not writing an elegy for the dead walking messengers, but thinking of their hazardous existence.

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