Politics

Veteran Scribe Pours Cold Water on Incident Driven Health Reportage

Veteran journalist Edem Djokotoe has check mated scribes that have excitedly taken to social media over the death of one of their own Sithembile Zulu of the Daily Mail after giving birth.

A cluster of journalists had taken to social media lamenting how no woman should die during child birth but Djokotoe gave the journalist driven social media buzz a reality check calling on the scribes to take responsibility for failing to highlight health matters in their reportage.

BELOW IS HIS FULL POST:

I didn’t know Sithembile Zulu, the young Daily Mail staffer who died, I gather from the posts I have seen on FaceBook, while giving birth. I have seen the outpouring of grief and emotion from many media professionals, some of whom I know well. I have even seen an online hashtag campaign which reads: #NoWomanShouldDieWhileGivingLife being driven by journalists who knew her personally and will undoubtedly be broken by her death. I imagine that because she was “one of us”, her death will get some media attention.

But I want every Zambian journalist reading this to pause for a minute and reflect on how it came to pass that we failed Sithembile and thousands of women like her by not making health a story worth telling, even though health is a matter of life and death for 14 million people who live in this country. And she passed on in a big city, the capital where there is even some modicum of care and infrastructure. Think about women tucked in the nooks and crannies of Zambia who risk death every time they have to give life to a child.

I am angry at all of us because we have chosen to subvert the values of news which form the bedrock of our professional and throw Public Interest out of the window. We have gone to bed with politicians and made them the only story in town. And for what? For the promise of a cushy diplomatic appointment or a seat on the government gravy train.

We should not pretend that we are not to blame for deliberately overlooking the news we should be covering and instead hiding behind the pale-faced excuse that because there is no Access to Information legislation in place, we are not able to report what we should.

We don’t cover health unless the Health Minister is making a speech about health. We don’t cover education unless the Education Minister is cutting a ribbon to officially launch a new school. We don’t cover agriculture even though we eat every day unless the Agriculture Minister decides to talk about maize floor prices.

Come to think of it, we do not even cover mining, which gives the government over 70 per cent of its revenue and has been the mainstay of the national economy since the dawn of Time. We cover games not the broad expansive landscape of sport, so we are stumped where the soccer season closes and there are no games to watch!

When we scan news content in the public and private media, what do we see? Can we honestly claim that what is on offer gives people a real sense of what is going on in every sphere of concern under the administrative jurisdiction of a government ministry? In short, we cannot afford to be in denial about what is really wrong. I know there are real tears being shed for Sithembile Zulu, but I also know that there are many others riding on the crest of the moment to be seen to sympathise and shed hippo tears.

All said, the moral outrage that led to the hashtag campaign and to the effusiveness of the public show of grief should inspire us to do what we became journalists to do in the first place—and that is, to report news of significance and interest to our largest constituency: the public.

29 Comments

  1. Lackson Mudenda

    “We have gone to bed with politician and made them the only story in town ”
    Truely we have women who are dying every day in a similar situation but we don’t hear them reporting more especially nation owner media houses , all what we hear politician so and so has said this and this ,is this what you are only been trained for ?come the rural areas and see how people are suffering,children are dying because of lack good health facilities ,we still have school going children who walk about 10 km everyday to go to school .
    Give us a balanced news pls

    Reply
  2. Lackson Mudenda

    Truely we have women who are dying every day in a similar situation but we don’t hear them reporting more especially nation owner media houses , all what we hear politician so and so has said this and this ,is this what you are only been trained for ?come the rural areas and see how people are suffering,children are dying because of lack good health facilities ,we still have school going children who walk about 10 km everyday to go to school .
    Give us a balanced news pls

    Reply
  3. FuManchu

    Hear o hear ye journalists! Trivia is no news at all and the social media does better in that sphere. Lets have the professionals inform the nation on issues that matter as to open our eyes!

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  4. Richard

    I hope the story of teachers who faked their papers will be ad quietly be cover as this another story that journalist must not turn a blind eye on . The write is 100% spot on. Let’s call a spade a spade.

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  5. Richard

    I hope the story of teachers who faked their papers will be ad quietly be cover as this is another story that journalist must not turn a blind eye on . The writer is 100% spot on. Let’s call a spade a spade. I remember watching Sunday interview where Gravazual was interviewing Ukwa, the Nigerian comedian. When asked about his work with politicians Ukwa clearly said he does not go to bed with politicians.l also agree with Ukwa because politians have messed us up. Look at the suffering of peaple. Its sad.

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  6. benjamin munsanje

    when your head is not reasoning well you can be like a mad man though u are normal.when you pour dirty water in clean water the clean one will become dirty.Chech yourself you jenar how many of you have sold themselves the leaders?

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  7. Sj

    Honesty is the best policy. Social issues seem to catch the eye QUICK. Take an analysis of those that will comment in this forum on the Economy, very few, if they’re THERE. But compare the Iris story with the mainstay of the Country(Cu) aaaaahhh, there’re quote on quotes from as good as the Bible.
    So why have Journalists concentrated on Politics and Social, simple that’s what will SELL as NEWS.Comment

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  8. irrationalman

    just last year i lost my aunt in similar situation in northern province. and I know many are. In most cases journalist dont make news for us, its the politicians who make news. its dictation of the news to the journalist. I watch our national tv news everyday but I dont even know why I do coz its not worthy it

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  9. Sj

    Honesty is the best policy. Social issues seem to catch the eye QUICK. Take an analysis of those that will comment in this forum on the Agriculture, Economy and list can go on, very few, if they’re THERE. But compare the Iris story with the mainstay of the Country(Cu) aaaaahhh, there’re quote on quotes from as good as the Bible.
    So why have Journalists concentrated on Politics and Social, simple that’s what will SELL as NEWS and not the jibberish news on how many Hospitals/Clinics a district shoud’ve. The Minister will only go there in 3 months time to give give baby pampers to newly borns @ Xmas and New Year(No hard feelings) bcoz it’s tour of duty.Comment

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  10. Mufumukadzi

    It has taken the death of one of their own to highlight the plight of women when they go to deliver in government hospitals. What has befallen Sithembile is happening everyday. Even last night if you do a check you will hear of someone who died due to negligence.

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  11. Ndolola Rennox

    Lackson! That Is True. People Are Suffering Out There ! Am Crying, Mourning Nearly Everyday Looking At How The Rural Areas Earns There Meat. Yes ! I Have Witinessed Women Giving Birth On The Way Due To Long Distances In R H C. Others Starting Off 03hrs, Only To Reach In Arround 08hrs. “imagine” I Have Witinessed Pupils Sleeping On The Way Due To Long Distances Of Schools. What About Aged People? Please Lets Stop Politicizing Each Other , And Go Back To The People Who Elected Us And Find Out The Needs. Read Out The Intetion And Manifesto For The Born Incoming ‘Party For All’ Coming To Change The Lives Of Millions Of People By Reach Out. Lackson, All What U Have Complained Is Equlped In The Manfesto As Per Above. We Need Development.

    Reply
  12. George Soros

    Does Zambia practice anything called journalism? No its either a journalist is a government propagandist Deadnbc, Zambia daily mail, Times of Zambia Daily Nation or a vendettaist: Zambia watchdog, The Post or the Mast, The Observer,ZR etc. In a situation like this does the journalist have any diary ideas? No because he or she awaits the vendetta seeking boss to give instructions on what to report. So Eden should address owners of so called media. He should also address so called journalists on ethics or are they just working for salaries?

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    • shu shu shu

      Soros, if obvious that you are one of the vendetta seeking bosses at some online publication. DeadNBC sure? Is that being objective?

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  13. Pastor Lloyd

    May the soul of the departed journalist rest in peace.
    Eden, point on, you are correct and to you the scribes. Give the nation balanced news

    Reply
  14. Lloyd mwila

    We have to report not only on the area you are trained in act please as a friend’s watch as a journalist not concentrate in politics along you of the all country Jesus loves you. Remember even people who are suffering.

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  15. Lloyd mwila

    We have to report not only on the area you are trained in act please as a friend’s watch as a journalist not concentrate in politics along you are of the all country Jesus loves you. Remember even people who are suffering.

    Reply
  16. mmmmm

    Is she the one dead in the front picture.

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  17. Bb

    Well said mama.let’s be balanced in covering news.visit clinics at random you will be shocked.some pipoz joined nursing out of job security otherwise they are animals with cruel hearts

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  18. jason Nyirenda

    Edem, you are always analytical. I like your thinking. Why should we cry foul now when we would have saved a life if we covered the negative aspects of politicians?

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  19. Iliche

    What a sad story!

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  20. Zambiana

    Eden ,you can’t be more true! Things would have been better in our country if a tithe of journalists we have were in your line of thinking.

    Reply
  21. Joe

    their are useless journalist, zambia has produced.

    Reply
  22. Evangelist SAMUKONGA

    How do you survive at a health care facility whose workers faces looks like that of a Leopard or Lion , others do not even know how to smile at patient, when it is lunch hour they lock up themselves in offices to for 2 hrs when patients are straggling with the pain of illnesses on the benches,, Let one of the Qualifications in health care giving be ,,, Are you a believer? (2) Which religion do you practice (3) What do you understand by the word called LOVE and MERCY (4) How do you look at POOR in society? Otherwise those able voices join me in singing this song called ,,, Naerer My GOD To Thee ,,KAMUPALAMINE LESA WANDI,, GOD bless our nation and the appointed Leadership.

    Reply
    • BlackBird

      Religion has nothing to do with ethics. The same health workers who look like leopards at GRZ facilities are Angels in Private Clinics and abroad. How do they manage to change in those environments? it is because they are provided with a reason to smile. Their conditions are better. They have enough supplies and the clinics are less congested. This idea of explaining everything in a religious lens is what has made Africa remain behind other continents. We behave like that person who was given one talent and hid it because he feared the Master so much. We see every problem in the spiritual realm. if our friends saw problems like we do, I bet we would never be driving or flying today. There are real issues affecting our health services that need real solutions. unfortunately we are all either too religious or too corrupt to make any meaningful impact. We need to be human beings before we become believers of whatever religion. Some of those cruel health workers are pastors or deacons or church elders and yet they behave worse that non believers. Ba Evangelist your solution is too simplistick.

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  23. Gee

    Pliz pliz as you criticize us as nurses,think also out of da box.have u taken your time to really find out what happened? Can someone define martenal death?if that journalist died after everything was done and she stayed for a day then its not martenal death

    Reply
  24. solisterchinyama

    Those are facts 103%

    Reply
  25. mukela mangolwa

    same applies to road safety

    Reply

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