Swaziland Media Reporting of Coronavirus Was Inadequate, Unesco Reports

Media reporting of the coronavirus pandemic in Swaziland (eSwatini) was inadequate, according to a new UNESCO report.

News concentrated on the statistics and mostly official Swazi Government sources were used in reports.

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) studied nine countries in southern Africa, including Swaziland.

Overall, UNESCO reported 'Most notably, reporting the pandemic has focused on the numbers. This was mostly motivated by statistics on infection rates, recoveries and deaths released by health authorities.'

It added, 'The main gaps in professional reportage of the pandemic was in the low representation of women's voices, citizen's voices, young and elderly people and rural communities in news on Covid-19 in all countries. This meant that perspectives on Covid-19 were heard from men, official figures and urban communities. Other perspectives could however have enriched coverage, particularly understanding how different groups perceived the pandemic and its effects on their lives. This marginalisation of social groups meant that there was little inclusivity and diversity in overall reporting on the pandemic.'

In Swaziland, sixty percent of sources in news reports were men. Only 1 percent of stories were specifically from rural area.

The report said, 'The media in the region rarely questioned or interrogated issues, numbers and claims they acquired from their sources in compiling Covid-19 articles. Some claims were presented as fact without the media putting disclaimers on such information.'

UNESCO researched news websites from 1 March to 31 August 2020.

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