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Never blow a chance to educate the public

The Standard recently published a story that blew an opportunity to educate the public on a matter of national interest.

That was wrong.

Titled, “NHIF payments now on e- citizen through paybill 222222”, the March 28 story by “NHIF” disappointed by not answering the most glaring question the heading raised: how?

But wait. This story was written by the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF)? Is the national insurer a writer? Since when did NHIF become a journalist?

Perhaps that was the beginning of the problem.

The intro said: “In response to the government’s directive, NHIF members can now make payments through the new pay bill number 222222 on the e-Citizen platform.”

Ok, if this was a news story, an attribution would be expected immediately. Who said so? Silence.

Instead, the story reminded readers of the government’s December 2022 directive to all state agencies to exclusively use the e-Citizen payment platform for collecting payments for all government services.

Ironically, the story would add, “NHIF has made efforts to simplify the payment process for its members” but forget to show that simplicity.

Catch the double irony? First, “made efforts to simplify” is not a simple phrase. It has three wasted words. “NHIF has simplified” suffices.

Two, where was the simplified process?

This story lacked standard hallmarks of journalism. Besides no attribution, there would be no quote, no anecdote, no inverted pyramid structure, and, well, no author.

Still, failure to educate the public on how to pay NHIF via e-Citizen was the elephant in the room.

Well, a stand-alone banner advertisement on the same page listed the payment steps on e-Citizen.

The trouble is a banner ad doesn’t replace a story.

A reader on a handheld device like a cell phone, especially if they selected a text-only format to read the story with no-graphics destruction, would never run into that banner ad.

That reader would finish the story still clueless on what to do.

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