Journalists as Communicators of Health Issues


Journalists are a good vehicle of communication about the health issues affecting the society. Communications is defined as the conveying of a message from one party to another through a medium. The media is one medium through which communications takes place.

HIV/AIDS is causing more damages than anticipated by the community members yet journalists are taking this issue lightly to communicate with the members of the society about it. Facts and figures are the main components of a journalist’s diet for producing and writing news, news analysis and feature stories. Editors and journalists often believe that putting together of facts and figures, with a few voices, is an exercise in objective reporting. Yet there is a lot that journalists should be doing to educate the masses and even opening an arena for discussion on the impact of HIV/AIDS.

In Zimbabwe and around the world what media people fail to grasp is their role as communicators. Researches conducted earlier reflect that the media communicates a variety of messages to various audiences who make up the reading or listening public.

When reporting about HIV/AIDS general in Africa and Zimbabwe in particular, media people have to grasp the complex problems and limitations in typical media representations of gender, to understand that these are deeply embedded social practice and interpretations that can cause confusion to the community members.

Communicating gender requires journalists and other media practitioners to observe the ways people can be marginalised because of gender issues. Journalists when reporting on health issues have to consider the age, class, who gets coverage, from what perspective and through which lens.

Women have to be educated not to regard marriage as a shield against AIDS, but as one way through which AIDS can be contracted. HIV/AIDS has become a grim mixture in women’s live especially in Zimbabwe. Many families are suspicious when their sons and brothers dies and widows are frequently blamed and resented for surviving their husbands.

Media should be in the forefront to encourage women who are about to get married to insist on an HIV test before marriage.

Among Zimbabwean, when a male is infected he receives unconditional support from his family. Women, however, are always blamed. These are some of the issues that media should open a sphere of discussion about.

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