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Paying for public services? Gava communication fails once again

Introduction

Some of the trending topics in the past week (October 16 – 22) include Kalonzo, Huduma, #KenyansHaveCriedEnough, #PalestineGenocide & Hamas, Ezra Chiloba, and #MashujaaDay and Kericho Green Stadium. This analysis looks at some of the trending topics and their impact on the media.

1. Huduma

Public Service Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria reversed his previous statement that suggested Kenyans would be required to pay for services at Huduma centres. Kuria retracted his statement, clarifying that it had been misunderstood. “Huduma” garnered significant attention, with 11,000 tweets, remaining a trending topic for over 19 hours.

Impact on media

The reversal of Moses Kuria’s statement generated a significant amount of media coverage. Media outlets, both traditional and digital, reported on the initial statement, the subsequent retraction, and the public reaction. The increased coverage reflects the media’s role in amplifying and disseminating important government stories.

Social media played a substantial role in amplifying the story and driving public engagement. It allowed for real-time discussions, reactions, and sharing of information. The mainstream media used social media trends as a source of news, further emphasising the interconnectedness of traditional and social media.

This incident underscores the need for government officials to communicate policies clearly and accurately. Misinterpretations or misrepresentations can lead to public confusion, erode trust in the government, and generate public backlash. It also highlights the need for a coordinated communication strategy within government agencies to prevent mixed messages.

 

2.  #PalestineGenocide & Hamas

For the second week running the Israel-Palestine conflict continued to make headlines online. A devastating explosion occurred at a Gaza City hospital claimed the lives of approximately 500 people, including children. Hamas attributed the damage to an Israeli airstrike, while the Israeli military claimed the hospital was struck by a rocket misfired by Palestinian militants. There has been mis- and disinformation shared by both Israel and Palestine on the incident.

The hashtag #PalestineGenocide reached the second position in trending topics with 1,453K tweets and remained in the trends for over 11 hours. In contrast, #Hamas ranked 16th with 4,958K tweets and remained in the trends for more than 18 hours.

Impact on media

The high-profile nature of this incident, along with its media coverage, keeps the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the international spotlight. This could result in greater efforts by international organisations, governments, and non-governmental organisations to mediate and provide humanitarian assistance.

The conflicting narratives between Hamas and the Israeli military have created a situation where media outlets had to carefully report and verify facts. This narrative confusion can influence public perception and opinion, emphasising the importance of journalistic integrity in such conflicts.

The prolonged trend of the hashtags #PalestineGenocide and #Hamas on social media platforms indicates that social media continues to be a significant force in shaping public opinion and discussion. It allows for real-time information sharing and debate, amplifying voices and perspectives.

3. #KenyansHaveCriedEnough

The hashtag #KenyansHaveCriedEnough has been trending in response to the ongoing evictions in Mavoko, Machakos County. According to Lands Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome, it is evident that the individuals who have settled on the Mavoko land lacked the requisite documents to establish their ownership, despite having made payments. She said records held by the Lands Ministry unequivocally indicate that the land belongs to the East African Portland Cement Company.

Impact on media

The hashtag #KenyansHaveCriedEnough highlights the growing impact of social media in shaping public discourses. It has allowed ordinary citizens to amplify their voices and express their concerns. These dynamics challenge traditional media outlets to stay relevant and responsive to grassroots movements and online trends.

The hashtag and related online discussions demonstrate the power of digital activism in mobilising people around social and political issues. Media outlets need to recognise the influence of online movements and incorporate them into their coverage.

Accurate and balanced reporting on sensitive issues like land disputes can either enhance or erode public trust in media. Journalists should maintain credibility by adhering to ethical standards and providing thorough, unbiased coverage.

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