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Why you can’t pay in Sheafra for matooke in Kampala

Introduction

The period between March 4 and 10, 2024, had an array of trends spicing up a dynamic interplay of narratives on Kenya’s media landscape. Some of the topics highlighted include #postmedicalinterns, EALA sittings, Facebook, and Instagram worldwide outage, Jowie, Safarilink and Wilson Airport, road accidents and Mnyama.

1. Sheafra

False information, accompanied by an image, has been circulating that the East African Community secretariat has introduced a new currency named the Shilling of East Africa and Franc (SHEAFRA). The EAC through their X handle promptly refuted this claim that had already gone viral. There’s no regional currency yet.


Impact on media

Instances of false information finding their way into the news is a major challenge to the credibility of media. Trending topics are often used as sources of news by some media houses without any attempts to verify the information. In the event of disseminating unverified information, media outlets may face scrutiny regarding their fact-checking processes and the reliability of the information they disseminate to the public.

2. Facebook & Instagram down

On March 5, 2024, Facebook, Instagram, Threads, and Messenger platforms encountered login issues. The widespread outage persisted for approximately two hours. During this disruption tech giant Meta reported losing around $100 million in revenue. This incident follows a significant outage in 2021, where Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp were inaccessible for over six hours. At that time, Meta, formerly known as Facebook, attributed the outage to “configuration changes on its backbone routers.”

Impact on media

Users may experience a decline in trust and confidence in Meta’s platforms due to the recurrence of significant outages. Such disruptions can lead users to explore alternative platforms, impacting Meta’s user engagement and potentially affecting its market share. The media should diversify its use of social media as a source as well as engagement platforms with online audiences.

3. Jowie

Kenyans were anticipating the sentencing of Joseph Irungu, alias Jowie, on March 8, 2024. He was convicted for the murder of Nairobi businesswoman Monica Kimani. However, Justice Grace Nzioka rescheduled the sentencing to March 13, citing the late submission of crucial documents from the victim’s family. This unexpected delay prompted disappointment among Facebook users, who expressed their frustration over the prolonged nature of the case.The developments surrounding Jowie’s case garnered widespread attention, as he trended for 24 hours, capturing the interest of over 2,600 Facebook users.


Impact on Media

The controversy and unexpected delay in the sentencing likely increased viewer and reader interest in mainstream media coverage. People were more likely to tune in, click, or buy newspapers to stay updated on the latest developments.

Media outlets covering the Jowie case may experience higher ratings for television programmess or increased circulation for newspapers and online platforms. High-profile legal cases often attract more viewership and readership.

4. Safarilink & Wilson Airport

In the aftermath of an air accident at Nairobi National Park on Friday, March 5, 2024, involving a Cessna aircraft belonging to Ninety-Nines Flying School and a Dash 8 operated by Safarilink Aviation Limited, the public swiftly disseminated images accompanied by captions on TikTok. This content garnered substantial attention, amassing numerous likes and views.

Impact on media

The use of TikTok as a platform for sharing real-time updates and visuals signifies the growing role of social media as a primary source of news. Media outlets may need to adapt their strategies to leverage these platforms and engage with their audience where they are most active. The quick dissemination of information through social media indicates a shift in reporting dynamics.

5. #postmedicalinterns

The hashtag gained significant traction with over 16,000 tweets, as medical interns protested in Nairobi. Subsequently, disturbing images circulated online, sparking widespread outrage among doctors and the public. Among the images was one capturing Davji Atellah, secretary general of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union, who was shot with a tear gas canister by the police. The KMPDU released a statement vehemently condemning the attack and threatening to organise its members for a protest.


Impact on media

The use of a trending hashtag and the dissemination of impactful visuals have significantly increased engagement on social media platforms. This surge in online activity not only boosts the visibility of the incident but also draws more attention to broader issues within the healthcare system.

The widespread outrage among doctors and the public, fueled by media coverage, contributes to a heightened sense of urgency. This amplification can lead to increased public mobilisation, protests, and a sustained demand for accountability from the authorities. Media coverage, particularly when emphasizing the human aspect of the incident, has the power to shape public opinion. By framing the narrative around the alleged police violence against medical interns and the injury to the KMPDU secretary general, the media influences how the public perceives the situation and the parties involved.
6. Road accidents

On February 24, 2024, tragedy struck Maadili Primary School as a devastating accident unfolded, claiming the lives of three students and leaving several others injured. In the same week, a Tahmeed bus traveling from Busia to Mombasa collided head-on with a tanker, resulting in a fiery inferno. Preliminary investigations identified dangerous overtaking as the cause of this fatal crash. In the aftermath of these incidents, discussions on Facebook gained momentum, centering around the profound impact of road accidents on survivors and their families. A particular focus emerged on accidents involving school buses, with users referencing past incidents attributed to negligence and carelessness. Among the incidents revisited was the tragic case of #JusticeForLiam, a three-year-old student of Goodrich International School in Katani. In mid-February, Liam fell off a moving school bus and was killed.

Impact on media

Stories that involve tragedy, especially those concerning schoolchildren, often evoke strong emotions, leading to increased readership or viewership. The media plays a crucial role in raising public awareness on issues such as road safety and transport regulations. By presenting the incidents and subsequent discussions, the stories contribute to the broader conversation on the need for improved safety measures and accountability in school transport and general road usage.

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